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Monday, December 27, 2004

Why Google Desktop Search Matters

Lately, I've heard a few people downplay the importance of Google's entry into desktop search. This comes from a variety of angles. "What's the big deal? Several companies have come out with this," some have argued. Others offer the usual "just wait for Microsoft to improve their stuff." Still others point out that they rarely use desktop search. And out there in the real world of techophobes, you'd be surprised at how many folks profess to have no idea what desktop search is.

In spite of all that, Google is obviously moving in an important direction. It boils down to how people organize and manage their contacts, documents, and time. Companies like Microsoft have long dominated that kind of "workday management," but the new mobile environment seems to give an advantage to newer companies like Google. Already, Google's web-based email and their desktop search perform nearly instantly, in marked contrast with competing products from Yahoo and Microsoft.

The next piece of this puzzle is surely contact management, even if it's only basic. You should be able to go to your desktop, or search within GMail, for the name "ned" or "zissou" and have the contact info come up instantly. All of that is of course old hat, and others have done it before. But that's where Google is headed, and because they build better, faster search products, that's where a lot of users will be headed. The principles underlying the current versions of GMail and desktop search will no doubt inform a variety of new Google products and services. Ideally this will add up to a reduction in frustration as we attempt to go about our daily business, but in the context of a decentralized, portable, free-agent model where even members of big companies are not necessarily locked into proprietary, centralized corporate IT systems.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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