- Google :: everyone knows Google as a search engine, but here I'm thinking of it as a platform, much like Microsoft Office, except based upon the net, not the disconnected desktop.
- Blogger :: simple web site publishing for non-technical people -- or people like me who want simplicity and free hosting. Based upon its behavior, I'd say it is built much like most web pages have been built over the last 10 years.
- Picasa2 :: simple photo/movie discovery and organization. For most people Picasa2's image processing is far superior to photoshop because Picasa2 is can be easily understood and makes it hard to screw things up. Its like this: my cheap Subaru is, for me, much more powerful than a race ready Ferrari because I can go the speed limit with it and I am less likely to drive it off the bridge. Picasa2's interactivity is a leap ahead of most web apps because they are making good use of efficient communication with the server and using an application development language far superior to the standard C# and Java.
- Hello :: changes personality depending on what else you are using. With Picasa2, Hello is instant messaging for photos; with Blogger Hello is content management for a simple web site. Like Picasa2, Google Maps, Google Earth, Hello is pretty lively.
Of course, creative and technically competent photographers and webmasters have been carrying out the same (except for IM) activities for years. The google stack, however, lets the less capable do most of the same things (and IM) easily and for free.
This free stack is just the hook for a wide variety of profitable add ons for Google. Similar branded stacks are emerging from organizations like yahoo and microsoft. In fact, if you want to make some money, prototype a slightly better version of one of these and sell it to the highest bidder.
Its significant that Picasa2 and Hello are conditioning people to expect ancillary software to run on their computer rather on expecting pure web based applications. While the web is becoming the new desktop, the desktop is becoming the new web. Quote me!
For better or worse, tribes are forming around these brands. We have the Google bunch, the Yahoo tribe, the Microsoft minions. There are even more consumer oriented tribes associated with Amazon and eBay. Its interesting that both Amazon (a9.com) and eBay have their own takes on search engines. The eBay engine allows one to use a cell phone to take a photograph of a bar code while in a store & get a report on similar items available from eBay. That is pretty close to 'something new under the sun.'
Note that one of the cool features of Blogger is the ability to time shift. When published, this note will have the timestamp of the original, very brief posting. I could have also rewritten it just a bit and published it with a date like 1 January 2003 as a prediction of software directions. I can hardly wait for the US government to start using this idea to rewrite history.