Wednesday, June 07, 2006

DIGILIFE | ASP arrives, from Google... where will it all end!

A few years ago, there was talk of Application Service Providers (ASPs) and how they would revolutionize the software industry.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it basically mean that users ‘log in’ to a service or a server that allows them to use an application online without having it on their PC hard disk. Instead of owning and installing a copy of the application on your PC, you use it online on a basis of subscription (paid) or registration (free).

Thanks to the Internet, anyone, anywhere will be able to use the same application and even the same document, if given access rights; creating virtual user-groups without the complexities of physical network set-ups and hardware. The other obvious attraction is that the service could be offered free or for a fee lower than buying the application.

Microsoft was among the first to talk about ASP, seeing as the company’s applications are the ones used by the majority of PC users worldwide.

However, the concept has not really taken off, and one senses that Microsoft has not put its weight behind it or even prefers that it does not become a viable replacement for actually buying and installing desktop software.

Enter Google who, as you would expect, are aiming to revolutionize this field as they have with almost every field before it.

Google have introduced a spreadsheet program, which is a a free alternative to Microsoft Excel.
For now, to avoid overloading Google’s servers, the spreadsheet will initially be distributed to a limited audience, possibly on a first-come-first served basis.

This will also allow Google some time to sort out any problems and develop more features.
Google is accepting sign-ups for the spreadsheet through the "Google Labs" section of its Web site.

Obviously, it’s not as sophisticated as Excel and won’t create charts or provide the same wide choice of options and menus; but that’s not what Google is aiming for anyway.

It wants it to be simple, and fast; therefore enabling family, friends or co-workers to gain access to the same spreadsheet from different computers at different times.

The only potentially thorny issue is one of privacy. Google is the keeper of these documents, and is entrusted with protecting the information from unauthorized users.

It’s the kind of situation which many companies would hesitate or refuse to accept. But individuals, probably, wouldn’t look at security issues in the same way.

And there’s more to come from Google, which also acquired an online word-processing application called Writely earlier this year, and will roll it out as a service just like the spreadsheet.

It’s amazing how every one of Google’s services is accompanied by privacy issues. Whether search, email, online calendar or any other.

Google is fast becoming the custodian of all our personal and, sometimes, business info. It’s a dangerous position for Google to be in, especially as a private, non-governmental entity.

Where will it all end?


At 2:40 AM , Anonymous Qwaider قويدر said...

I liked your post, its moderate and balanced. I was going to reply here, but ended up writing a full post about it at Memories Documented
Enjoy (By the way, I'm not spamming your comments or anything, I just found that I had more to talk about than a comment would allow)


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