Asia Scope

Google still making waves

By Pip Wilson for

When, nearly 10 years ago, on the suggestion of a tech-savvy friend, I switched my Internet searching to the newly fledged Google, I was astounded at its superiority over its rivals. Not astounded enough to guess that Larry Page and Sergey Brin would each be worth US$18 billion today, and (sadly) slightly insufficiently impressed to buy Google shares.

The world has watched the rise of this corporation with amazement, and the show is not over yet. At the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, they are working on applications that Google is gambling will change the face of messaging and social networking on the Net.

Foremost among these is Google Wave, scheduled to be launched within the next six months or so. The video of the developer preview of Wave is one of the hottest views on the Net, and the anticipated merging of email, instant messaging and social networking holds great promise.

However, no one, least of all even the seemingly omniscient Google, can be sure that Wave will succeed. It’s still a gamble. Not every pundit is even confident that the 2009 launch target will be met: Taylor Wimberly of Android and Me writes: “In the current form, I would not expect to see it before 2010.”

Furthermore, Google Wave makes Sun Microsystems director and Web guru Tim Bray nervous, and Bill Gates’s replacement as Microsoft Chief Software Architect skittish because he says it’s “anti-web”. And Eweek’s Google Watch is wary that it might enslave users.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Whether it will make a dent in Twitter, Facebook and traditional instant messaging and emails remains to be seen, but it is an impressive achievement in coding.

It’s hard to deny that Google has been remarkably successful over the years in having the last laugh over its critics, rivals and opponents in general. Gmail – which has just gone out of beta in order to attract more commercial users, is still steaming ahead as the webmail of choice. Even a longterm Gmail skeptic such as I has switched, no longer seriously concerned about privacy issues with the app’s contextual ads. Privacy? We haven’t had it for years. I got over it.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Bing is making a slight ding in Google’s share of the search market, and is now the Net’s 13th most-visited site. Can’t decide which to use? Try – and happy googlebinging, surfers.