August 26, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

Google aims for Web developers' hearts and minds

Google is taking a page from Microsoft's well-worn playbook for tech industry domination: Rather than just rolling out new products and features, the search giant is trying to win the hearts and minds of Web developers.

Earlier this week, Google introduced Google Talk instant messenger and an upgrade to Google Desktop Search, which adds a product called Sidebar that pulls data from the Net and serves up a personalized panel of information such as e-mail, stock quotes and news.

Both offerings, notably Sidebar, have the potential to lure away current Microsoft users, analysts said. But Google--in a technique perfected long ago at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters--has made software developers an important target audience as well. As with nearly all its services, Google is supporting standards and providing hooks intended to let outside developers create add-on products.

News.context

What's new:
Google's latest services underscore the company's efforts to create a platform on which to build add-on products and services.

Bottom line:
The Internet company is appealing to third-party developers, much the way Microsoft has done with Windows for years. But Google's platform is oriented toward its online services.

More stories on Google

Of course, the ever-widening array of Google products has some people wondering whether the company is out to create the rough equivalent of an operating system. Strictly speaking, Google's products are not a replacement OS, but the collection of tools released thus far serve the same purpose, said analysts. Even products that run on Windows PCs, such as Google's Picasa photo-editing software, could tie back to Google's online services.

"It doesn't seem like they have to deliver an operating system or a browser. They're doing a pretty good job of co-opting what Microsoft has done and putting Google stickers on it," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research.

But longtime Microsoft watchers believe it wasn't just the OS that made Microsoft the most profitable company on the planet. The software titan's vaunted developer-outreach network created a rich "ecosystem" of applications that run on Windows and Office, its desktop application suite, driving adoption of the company's core products.

Some say that's exactly what Google is now trying to re-create on the Web.

Google-eyed over APIs
Nearly all of Google's services are accessible via application programming interfaces, or APIs, which give software developers the documentation needed to build add-on products. For example, the Google Maps API has spawned a cottage industry of creative "mashups" that let people combine information from a source such as apartment listings, and plot that information on a map.

As it has with earlier services, Google supports industry standards in its latest offerings, and it also exposes the functions of its services to outside developers and encourages independent developers and software companies to build clever add-ons.

Rather than create a fenced-off instant messaging client, for example, the search giant released Google Talk, which supports the Jabber standard. That means several different clients, including ones not made by Google, can tap into the service.

In the case of Google Desktop Search, the company has released a number of plug-ins to the Sidebar tool, along with a developer mailing forum, as a way to seed the market. For example, Sidebar users can already replace the standard clock thanks to a Google-made plug-in.

Google declined comment for this story. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until

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12 comments

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go google
i like how google gives developers a chance to addon to their products(unlike microsoft). Just wish they would release the PageRank code:) O and just noticed at the top of the second page it says: " July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)" I think July 2005.
Posted by darkfate26 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
actually, July 2006 is correct.
Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with News.com reporters until July 2006--a little less than a year from now. The move came, as the story notes, in response to a story published last month.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Todays most exciting service on the web is...
Check out the revolutionary free for life personal online desktop offered at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cosmopod.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.cosmopod.com</a> I bet this is going to be the path of the connected future
Posted by iqula (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Kottke.org
Hey guys, why don't you give Jason Kottke some credit for this story (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kottke.org/05/08/googleos-webos" target="_newWindow">http://www.kottke.org/05/08/googleos-webos</a>) instead of just plain copying it?
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reporter's response
Kottke's post on WebOS/GoogleOS is excellent - I read through it last night after filing this story. We certainly could have linked to his post (directly) because it was one of the better posts on the subject - though that's already been done here and in the trackbacks. But we did not get the story idea from him or try to recreate his post as a news article. I wasn't a regular reader of Kottke.org but I look forward to reading and quoting from his blog more.
Posted by mlamonica (330 comments )
Link Flag
Web Platform
Microsoft, among others, envisioned the web as a platform. Thus, the interest in web services which exactly enables that vision.

Google has the "jump on to it" advantage because they can immediately ride on the web and focus on developing web products that will enrich and enable various online experience. Come to think of it, they have no device OS to worry developing about. The web is their "OS" and it is up and running 24/7.

The future will not stick to the web browser. Web services will help shape a web connected platform for web services consuming applications. We see Konfabulator and Mac's Dashboard sampling this today.

In the future, we will see rich online applications which are not confined to the web browser. We will see them connecting, communicating, exchanging and consuming web services. And we will see Google with enough of them to offer, likely, ahead of the competition.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft slow to the web
I wouldn't give Microsoft that much credit for envisioning the web
as a platform. They were slow to the ballgame and saw it mostly as
a threat to their dominance, hence the war against Netscape. Web-
based software, with Google at the forefront, may indeed be a
threat to Microsoft's dominance down the road. I hope it happens.
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Link Flag
Google's OS?
I'm perplexed by this notion that Google wants to displace Microsoft, as the OS level. Every single computer has to have some operating system that controls it. This isn't "web-based". To boot the computer, there has to be an OS either in the chips or on a hard drive.

It's one thing for Google to win the portal battle, but how do they take over the actual computer?

About the only thing they could do, I think, is help desktop Linux along and build on that, displacing Microsoft. Or, buy one of the desktop Linux OS providers, and then make their own OS, based on that.

Now that would give Microsoft nightmares.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Google Hoax - will it ever end
Yesterday we heard that Google has come out with this amazing innovation
called an Instant Messenger!
WOW: Only 10 years behind the rest of the world!!
The only positive thing that was said about Google IM was that
"it has a minimalist look....." which is code word for it has 1995
technology/features.

A while back it was that Google has introduced email (GMail), WOW.
What an amazing invention that was! A web based email! Who would
ever think of that! How do they create such amazing invention.
Oh lets not forget that they gave a 1GB allowance with their email.
So by that same Token if a Pizza store offers Pizza that is 6 feet in
diameter, then my must be a real food innovator!
I mean what a joke: anyone can offer something bigger, if they have the
capital to do so. This has nothing to do with being an innovator or cool.

And today, we are hearing this vague notion that Google is going to
create the equivalent of OS, same BS that was said about what Nestcape
was doing with their browser or SUN was doing with Java. There is no
such a thing about being "half pregnant". Only way to create an
equivalent to the OS is to create the OS, anything else is media hype
which in time disappears as nothing but Hoaxware.

What Google demonstrates is the amazing Big media Hype behind it.
Because many of these Big media organizations who are Hyping
Google to unbelievable degrees (AOL, Timewarner, CNN, Fortune,
Financial times, WallstreetJournal, etc.)
they are major share holders of Google and stand to make Billions by
creating this total Hoax about Google being some ingenious software/Internet
company, which it is NOT at all and then dumping their stock at the peak
valuations on the "schmuck" public who does not know better.
Posted by 207495111267145837975635436522 (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PT Barnum was right!
I agree with you. The Google hype right now is starting to smell like the dot-com hype of the past except now it's focus on only one tech company, which makes it even worse. In order for Google to justify the irrational price of their stocks, they need many accomplices in the Media and Wall Street circle who continually make it seem that Google is doing something that has never been done before. When the price of Google has been hyped as far as it could go, insider investors will dump the stocks and pocket their profit while leaving the rest of the little investors holding the bag. This pattern has occurred before with Amazon, AOL, Yahoo, etc... I guess PT Barnum was right. There is a sucker born every minute.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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