Ah, The Wonderful Internet

As usual, there is so much going on that I can only keep track of tiny little snippets of news... And, occasionally, an elephant lurking behind them.

For instance:

  • I just noticed this piece on the new Samsung USB-only monitors, which instantly reminded me of Ndiyo and Newnham Research. I'm not sure if this is their chipset, but whomever it is - sign me up for Mac beta testing, guys! I'll go out and grab a couple of those the instant you tell me you'll support Mac OS X on both PowerPC and Intel...
  • Opera/Mini has gone 3.1, and feels the slightest bit snappier on my Pearl. Access keys seem to be shot, though, and I would love it having better link navigation (it's a pain to navigate to the right link sometimes - the Blackberry built-in browser makes a lot better use of the trackball).
  • Sapo Local has launched. I don't care if they're the competition, they're doing a great job and deserve a hand of applause. Oh, and their site works fine in Safari, which is more than what I can say for a lot of Portuguese sites...
  • The iPhone trademark soap opera (which I pointedly ignored, filing it systematically under "pointless industry shenanigans") seems to have drawn to a close. My guess is that someone's position didn't hold water, but like I said, I pointedly ignored the whole thing...
  • Finally, Google Apps For Your Domain, which I've been using for a while, has gone pro (via Om Malik, who as usual has a great summary and points to a nice comparison with Microsoft Office Live).

And yeah, I buy the underlying argument - although, like I was saying on IM just now, Google doesn't seem to be targeting Microsoft specifically - in fact, they seem to be using precisely the same age-old tactics as Microsoft once did - i.e., expanding into "green field" domains where there is no real competition, and not even acknowledging it when there is.

(It's the new take on Embrace and Extend, which I like to term Steamroll 2.0...)

Microsoft just happens to be in the way. And, judging from the time they're taking to mount a coherent (i.e., coordinated and timely) online strategy, they risk becoming Web 2.0 flotsam.

But let's go back to Google. I'm still on the fence where it regards the software-as-service thing (mostly because I think that Citrix-like solutions are far better than Web-based ones), but technical considerations aside, and once you strip out the "wow" factor and look beyond the price points at which analysts are valuing their services, Google feels... oddly beta.

Which is strange, considering that they are either wiping the floor with Microsoft or preparing for World Domination (depending on which hype-ridden business columns you happen to be reading).

And yet, shouldn't a company with the amazing reach (and diversity) of Google be a bit more... solid?

Although I will be the first to admit that I am (both geographically and business-wise) several thousand miles away from them, over the years I've been forming a gradually more defined picture of that they feel like as an organization, and, aside from their ad business, the overall impression is that of a pontillistic painting - a multicolored cloud that, ultimately, seems to lack a defined strategy.

Maybe they have one. Maybe it's all that Web 2.0 static clogging the Internet tubes, and fuzzing things at my end. But Google's sprawling growth in no direction in particular does raise some questions, not the least of which is which way is their ship being steered - into the web services territory, or towards something else on the far horizon?

And yes, I do find it ironic that a search engine company seems to have trouble finding its own way...

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