Saturday, July 31, 2004

Google's alternative computing platform

Is Google trying to replace the desktop PC? From an article by Rajesh Jain:
    What Google has done is to build an alternative computing platform. This is becoming obvious as it starts our to roll out various services which go beyond just search: a shopping service, social networking, a blogging platform, email with a difference (not to mention plenty of storage), and a local search/yellow pages engine.

    Rick Skrenta [CEO of] had this to say: "Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application. While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming."

    Tim O'Reilly [CEO of O'Reilly Media] takes it further: "In a brilliant Copernican stroke, [Google's] gmail turns everything on its head, rejecting the personal computer as the center of the computing universe, instead recognizing that applications revolve around the network as the planets revolve around the Sun. But Google and gmail go even further, making the network itself disappear into the universal virtual computer, the internet as operating system."
I'm not sure. Sounds a lot like the hype surrounding Netscape in the late 1990's. But, if the Windows desktop faces even the remote possibility of being threatened, I can see why Microsoft is responding so aggressively.