Google and innovation – take 2

About a couple of years back, I wrote about how Google had a tight integration between its various services, and how Yahoo lacked it.

However when I made that entry, Google had very few services and Yahoo had lots of them. In fact, Google was primarily a search company and Gmail and Calendar were just new arrivals in the scene.

However now that Google has already been Yahoo 2.0, it's time to look at Google's offerings again and see how they have fared.

The first impression is that Google has done tremendously well. Although they have acquired several companies in the last couple of years, they have been very quick in integrating these applications with their portfolio. Orkut, Gmail/Gtalk integration, Gmail/Google docs integration, Google Mashup Editor are some examples.

However on second thoughts, it looks like there is a lot that is still to be done.

What kind of integration can we expect?

  • You bookmark resources in various services
    • Starring entries in Google Reader
    • Starring posts in Google Groups
    • Starring Google search results
    • Noting down items or clipping entries in Google Notebook
    • Indicating your favorite books in Google Books.
Why is there no single 'Google bookmarks' service?
  • Social network everywhere
Mail and IM are inherently social applications. However with the new Facebook revolution, a social network revolves around everything we do over the web. Google already has its own social network. How well is this integrated with its various services? More on Google Reader social network integration.
  • Presence awareness everywhere
A related expectation is presence awareness in various Google services. GMail has a tight integration with GTalk. Why is a similar presence awareness not available in Google Reader, Google Docs etc?
  • Uniform look and feel
Google has been doing very well here. However, some bit of work is required on sites like Orkut and Youtube.
  • Attention profiling
Google has a log of your search history. However, I guess it would be interesting to integrate this data with your mail interactions, your Google reader trends, your group activities, interactions on Orkut, sites you browse etc.

It is a complex problem to solve. You don't know what the various interaction points between the various services are or what the various dimensions are for these applications. However, we learn some of these over time. For example, it looks like social networks and attention profiling are here to stay. So if you are building an application, ensure that it is integrated well with some social network and also takes into account the attention information of a user.

Gmail forwarding and service interoperability – an interesting observation

Ever seen the Gmail forwarding feature? Gmail helps you in forwarding your mails from one account automatically to another account.

It just occured to me (and would occur to any hacker), what if I forward mails to some account and then from that account forward it back to this?

Guess what? Nothing happens! Gmail has taken care of that.

We had a similar problem when we were discussing about service interoperability in Ananyeah. I guess it is easier to take care of this in Gmail as it is only mail. What if there are other services?

Let me give you an example for other services. It is possible to subscribe to a blog and get the feed delivered in our reader. Let us call the first reader, Reader1. Now assume, Reader1 provides the option of creating an RSS out of it. If I subscribe to this RSS using another feed reader, Reader2 and then subscribe to their RSS using the Reader1, what is bound to happen? Time to check out and start experimenting. (And if you did not understand this concept, don't worry. You will hear about it soon.)