I've been an outspoken critic of Google over the years, admiring some of its products (Search, SMS, News, etc.) while deriding its relationship to open source and deprecating most of its products.
There appears to be, however, a new Google afoot, and it's one that I like quite a bit. Google may need to change its slogan from "Don't be evil" to "Be open," as this looks to be the direction it is going. At Google I/O today, Google announced a few things that make me feel like the future of the web is much safer in its hands than in Microsoft's (if Microsoft ever figures out the web at all).
symbolic move aimed at reinforcing Google's commitment to working with existing standards communities and helping them to define better open standards for bridging online applications and the offline world.
Indeed, Google's Gears Engineer Aaron Boodman writes that Gears "aims to bring emerging web standards to as many devices as possible, as quickly as possible."
More open, much sooner.
In Google's increasingly open world, Steve Ballmer's insistence that Vista "is not a failure and it's not a mistake" speaks to the wrong questions surrounding the much maligned operating system. What he should be protesting is that "It's not irrelevant."
Unfortunately, Mr. Ballmer, it just might be, as Google makes the browser more and more powerful (Seen Google Earth lately?), and uses Gears to pick up the slack for browsers in the interim.
Consider, for example, MySpace's announcement that it has integrated Gears into its messaging system to create a backup of messages (email) to a user's computer and thereby enable faster searching and sorting of the messages. With 170 million messages sent each day on MySpace, this adds up to cost-savings as it needn't process all of the email searching and sorting server-side. The consumer wins, and MySpace wins.
Or look at Google's App Engine, which is one area in which Google keeps trying to "mak[e] clouds of computing power more accessible to all developers." Google is now opening up App Engine to everyone, not an elect few, at pricing that is very compelling.
In sum, it's starting to look to me that Google's "Don't be evil" motto may be giving way to a much more positive (and useful) slogan: "Be open."
I'm liking this new Google much more than the old, secretive and arrogant Google. Well, it's still arrogant, but one character flaw at a time. :-)