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Google's Cloud Ecosystem

How it may be a roadblock in their battle with Apple and Microsoft.

Does Google have what it takes to compete long term with Apple and Microsoft? Right now by all accounts, yes they do. In fact, Google's kicking butt and taking names. So is Apple for that matter, and Microsoft, well, they are still trying to convince the world that Windows Phone is a worthy competitor. So why even bring this up? Google has an amazing suite of products. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, and Google Voice all make using a Android device a compelling experience. Taking a look at where the industry is headed, I have questions about Google's ability to compete.

Mountain Lion and Windows 8

Apple's latest version of OSX shows exactly where the convergence of mobile and desktop is headed. To a wonderful cloud filled world where your phone is an extension of your desktop and your desktop can do everything your phone can while you sit in front of it. Texting from your computer, working on a document from your phone and then making a Facetime call from your iPad to your friend's iPhone or iPad? That reality is here, and it's coming this summer from Apple. Personally, I see their desktop clients of iMessage and Notification Center as killer, must have features on the desktop of the future.

Even Microsoft is getting in on the act with Windows 8. Using their Windows Live services, Windows Messenger, Xbox Live, their partnership with Facebook and some of their services like SkyDrive to move your data around, you can expect that using a Windows Phone with Microsoft products to be a well thought out cohesive experience. Microsoft doesn't have a notification center that will sync between phone and desktop yet, but it's a natural extension of the platform in the future.

So here in lies the problem. The world uses Macs running OSX and PCs running Windows. Where's Google's platform to tie their phone to? Chrome OS you might say? And while I agree the vision of a world where data flows freely at all times and connectivity is never an issue is a closer reality, it's still not a reality and won't be for a while.

The bigger question is, why is my phone a silo of information and my desktop another silo of information? Apple is bridging the gap in a big way. Microsoft has taken the first steps as well. Google is keeping their reach restricted to the cloud for now. I think the solution to the problem is a fairly simple and easy one too. A Google client that can be installed on the desktop, either OSX or Windows that allows you to interact with all of Google's services on your desktop and allows you to keep everything in sync with all your Google devices. This strikes me as the best solution as it allows anyone, from any platform to use their services in a meaningful way across all their devices.

I understand Google's hesitance to jump in that direction, but Microsoft and Apple hold huge advantages in these departments and if they are both smart will continue to leverage the fact that people want to use desktop machines in their daily lives. Apple has shown how that integrated future looks in their eyes, and it's a very smart, well thought out vision, Microsoft is still crafting their view of how their ecosystems will work together, but I have no doubt that it will be similarly useful and enticing to customers as well. Ultimately leaving Android users out in the cold facing a decision. Do they continue along in the disjointed world of Android hoping that some 3rd party bridges the gap, or do they make the jump to another platform?

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