There has been quite a bit of talk in legal technology blogs about online apps and how they cross OS boundaries, while giving you access to your files from anywhere you can get an Internet connection. Although I have not been a big proponent of them, many swear by them. Probably the biggest provider of online apps is Google, with its Google Docs. Calendar, GMail, etc. If you are considering using an online suite, you need to look at how solid the product is and whether it will be there for you in the long haul. An interesting post on ComputerWorld posits that Google has “lost its mojo in the industry.” They quote a former developer for Google as saying,

“There’s just too much of it that is regularly broken. It seems like every week 10% of all the features are broken…. And it’s a different 10% every week — the old bugs are getting fixed, the new ones introduced.”

This does not bode well for Google, nor does it instill confidence in its product. He blogs about it in more detail here. Another thought provoking point was made as well:

“If you’re thinking of making the jump to Google hosted services, look beyond the magic of the brand name. Instead, take a hard look at the services it’s trying to sell you, and evaluate Google the same way you would any other vendor.

And the next time you use Gmail, Google Calendar or Google Docs, take a close look at the service’s logo. You’ll notice the word beta there, even though some of those services have been around for several years; Gmail, for example, was launched in 2004. If Google is really ready for IT prime time, shouldn’t it move its software out of the beta cycle?”

As I said, I am not a big fan of online apps. However, I would recommend to anyone looking into them to engage in a little “due diligence” before taking the plunge. If these bloggers are wrong, then it may not be an issue for you in the future. But if they are right . . . .

UPDATE (9-6-08): An interesting post on PCWorld’s site posits that Google might be spreading itself too thin.  Google’s core business and cash cow, its search engine, may be being neglected by its many other ventures.   It quotes industry analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group as saying,

“Google is so distracted by the number of things they’re trying to do that they’re not focused on assuring the quality of any of them. The end result is they’re building a foundation for failure.”

Whether this is true or not, it is a company that may be juggling too many balls at once, and they may end up being bowling balls.  Quite a bit is happening in this industry that is exciting, but we must look to the stability of the companies offering this technology and how reliable it is.  This is something to watch carefully.  As the post staes in closing: “It thus remains to be seen whether 10 years from now Google will still be at the top of the search heap while maintaining a bulky menu of side projects.”  Indeed!

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