Google Edges Closer

To what? Well, not to the upcoming IPO auction. That’s another story.

No, what I’m referring to is that Google appears to be edging its way into the browser wars and perhaps more. Nearly every day, I hear about some new piece of the puzzle being revealed. Here’s today’s item-

Google ready for clash with Microsoft

By JOHN MARKOFF
THE NEW YORK TIMES

SAN FRANCISCO — Edging closer to a direct confrontation with Microsoft Corp., Web search engine Google is preparing to introduce a powerful file-and-text software search tool for locating information stored on personal computers.

Read more…

What I find fascinating is that Microsoft isn’t making the moves it’s going to take to neutralize the competition. Let’s take a look at the parts that Google has revealed so far-

1- The core web searcher

2- Gmail – part of a browser … Or, part of a bid to field an entire web portal

3- Google Groups – this is a sleeper, but it’s a critical piece if their aim is to knock Yahoo off the map.

4- The Puffin Project – which ties your system seamlessly into searching. This will probably be melded into the Google Searchbar (desktop Toolbar).

5- Probably other pieces that we haven’t yet seen with a high WOW factor.

As I said, this is all highly interesting. Microsoft may find that they’re ‘too little, too late’ on this one. That’s not something they have a lot of experience at.

The future? The missing pieces on each side are-

Microsoft

Some means of delivering this integrated search experience to the masses. I would expect them to really lean on trying to become a major braodband access provider. If they were smart, they’d start trying to expand the availability of broadband to all those areas that just aren’t well covered in this country. Come on, guys, you have over $50B US sitting in the bank- try investing some of it in your own future. Microsoft could easily start buying up small rural ISP’s and using them as seeds to grow broadband MSN. Everybody tries to buy into the ‘Big’ markets, but there’s a lot more people in rural America who have only one choice for acces, if that. I’d like to see them make it a case of doing well by doing good.

Google-

Well, they face different challenges. They have the search market well in hand and they’re certainly not afraid of trying new things. They need the base of a browser to hang everything else on. Puffin may be able to be that, but we’ll have to see about that when it’s finally officially announced. Gmail looks to be a huge plus, since it provides email services for free that other players charge for. The missing pieces here, outside of the browser ‘frame’ are anti-virus and anti-spam engines for Gmail. I would not be at all surprised to find that they have these tools just sitting on the shelf and waiting for the official roll-out of Gmail. Now, if Google should just happen to form a partnership with a major national ISP, like… hmm… Comcast(?) that just tried to buy Disney and is looking for new directions? Something like the Yahoo-SBC partnership.

Google, of course, has this advantage over the others- they’re making gobs of money out providing free things to the public. It’s a neat trick and made possible by directing targeted ads. Where Google did things right was in making sure that those ads weren’t a pain in the butt for consumers. The ads have been text and easily ignored if you want to. They’re about to make banner ads available to advertisers, but I’m hoping that they’ve discovered a way to make them as well-mannered as the original text-only ads. We’ll see.

Okay, I’ve dusted off the crystal ball for all of you. Let’s see what happens!