Friday, April 20, 2007

Video Conferencing for Googlers First, the Rest of the World Later?

With Adobe Acrobat Connect (formerly Macromedia and then Adobe Breeze) and WebEx (recently acquired by Cisco), it is really of little surprise that Google is putting its muscle into the online conferencing and collaboration arena.

They have announced the acquisition of Marratech, "which will enable from-the-desktop participation for Googlers in videoconference meetings wherever there's an Internet connection."

The interesting world here is "Googlers." That implies that only Google employees, commonly referred to as Googlers, will be using videoconferencing features from Marratech. That strikes me as a little out of the ordinary for a company bent on making the world's information accessible and free, not to mention its drive towards knocking Microsoft off of its Office pedestal. You can even argue that this particular post strengthens the case that the Google Blog isn't a blog as we've come to know, but rather a public corporate bulletin board.

Still, you have to wonder if Google is going to use its employees as test subjects to see how well this videoconferencing software works before opening it up to the public. You can bet that businesses everywhere will want to use this service, and that Google will offer it for free like its Docs & Spreadsheets and its forthcoming presentation capability that takes square aim, again, at Microsoft.

The day is fast approaching when the desktop Operating System as we know it will be obsolete. It won't come as a surprise is Google replaces Microsoft as the "Big Brother" everyone loves to hate. The next "evil corporation."

That identity, however, could very well depend on how Google dances around rising concerns of consumer/user privacy and data collection. Ever notice how there are always posts on hacks and bugs and other issues with Microsoft products, people demonstrating how to breach security and infiltrate the latest Microsoft OS? Yet there doesn't seem to be much on how to hack Google and get ahold of its treasure trove of data. Is it that no one has tried, or is it that many have tried and failed? Or has it happened but Google being Google, the information control freak, has managed to prevent an information leak?

All that data in one place has to make you ask yourself: what happens when all my data stored by Google is compromised?

Remember, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. So an information breach at Google, or any other company that stores vast amounts of data, is not completely out of the question.

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