Saturday, September 15, 2007

Easy Come, Easy Go(ogle)

There's never a shortage of speculation surrounding future Google releases. With rumours flying around at breakneck pace it's easy to loose track.

With Google presenting at TechCrunch40 later today, let's take a moment to review some of the biggest, longest running, and most eagerly anticipated Google product rumours: Google Television, GDrive, the GPhone, GoogleTalk-to-Phone, Google's Social application, and Google Office.

The Google Phone
Alias: GPhone

Speculation on the GPhone started as early as 2005, and it's been regular blog fodder since then, with the rumour mill hitting overdrive in August thanks to reliable reports of an impending post-Labour Day release.

Early speculation suggested a hardware device similar to the iPhone, but recent comments from Google's head of research, Peter Norvig, suggest it won't be a Google created handset. The smart money now is on a Java-based Google powered phone OS along with a suite of mobile Google applications available on 3rd party hardware, with Business Week claiming just last week that a gPhone mobile phone platform is nearing release.

Original Speculation: December 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Post Labour Day, 2007.
Trending: Peaking.
Likelihood of imminent release: High.

Alias: Platypus, Google Drive, WWW10

Rumours of a Google powered online storage solution started in 2005, but it was the inadvertent release of suggestive power point slides in early 2006 that really got people's attention.

After a massive bout of online speculation things died down until July 2007, when CorsinCamichel discovered an internal Google GDrive client codenamed Platypus. More recently Tony Ruscoe found that 'GDrive' was available to some users as a service within Google Apps, fueling speculation of a possible public release.

Original Speculation: March 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown. Likely to be part of Google Apps.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: High.

Google's Social Application
Alias: Makamaka, Ninianne Wang's Social Project, Google World

Google's decidedly underwhelming Orkut service has led to speculation that Google intends to release an alternative social application that takes a radically different approach. Revelation's in May 2006 that star Googler Niniane Wang was heading up a new project in the social space led to speculation that the project might be a killer combination of Facebook and Second Life leveraging Google Earth.

More recently Google Operating System highlighted Google's investment in SocialStream (a social networking aggregation project), and the accidental leak of a Google training video described the 'big social effort' at Google (Makamaka), as the framework for Google's social efforts.

Original Speculation: April 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Upwards.
Likelihood of imminent release: Low.

Alias: Google Television

Google TV has been rumour fodder since before the launch of Google Video in January of 2005.

In March of 2006 job openings for an Interactive TV Product Manager and Software Engineers with experience in 'emerging TV standards' and 'deploying robust, high-volume applications for consumer devices' fueled speculation that a GoogleTV set-top-box might be on its way.

In January 2007 an brilliantly spoofed 'how-to guide' to register for the GoogleTV Beta program was released on YouTube sparking a surge of interest as hope overcame common sense before the hoax was revealed.

In March Google announced a television AdSense trial, and in August Vint Cerf (VP at Goolge) suggested that television is approaching it's 'iPod moment', when most users will be downloading their television.

Original Speculation: 2004.
Last Heard From: August 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: Low.

GoogleTalk Phone-Out
Alias: Google Voice, Google SIP

When Google launched GoogleTalk in August 2005 with audio conferencing using the open source libjingle library,there was wide-spread expectation that a Skype style PC-to-phone service would follow.

In July of 2006 GoogleTalk was updated to provide 'voice mail' for missed audio calls and in May this year the accidental release of a Google slideshow including a screen-capture of an updated GoogleTalk client including a 'dialpad' renewed speculation that GoogleTalk would soon be upgraded to include a PC to phone service. A month later Google acquired GrandCentral, a 'one number for life' phone management startup.

Original Speculation: August 2005.
Last Heard From: June 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: Moderate.

Google Office
Alias: Presently, Google Wiki, JotSpot

The Google Office suite (or MS Office killer) has been a target of speculation GMail's release in 2004, but only really grabbed hold in March of 2006 when Google purchased collaborative online document editor Writely. Since then Google has added a Calendar and Spreadsheets to there Office suite, and has packaged all three tools as 'Google Docs' and embedded them with the Google Apps service.

More recently Google has acquired business focused wiki JotSpot, and online presentations software creator Tonic Systems. Neither acquisition has yet resulted in a Google offering, though Information Week suggests that the release of Presently (Google's PowerPoint offering) is a dead certainty for Tech40 today.

Speculation continues regarding an offline component to Google Docs, and the release of a JotSpot powered wiki component.

Original Speculation: 2004.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: September 17, 2007.
Trending: Upwards.
Likelihood of imminent release: Near certainty.

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