Google = Netscape Corporation 2.0?

After some pretty rampant speculation, it turns out that the bigGoogle/Sun announcement was much ado about nothing. Basically they announced some strategicpartnerships and cross-promotional agreements, for instance theGoogle Toolbar being bundled with the JVM (ignore the fact thatthis sort of thing usually disenfranchises customers).Zzzzzzz.

The world didn’t change today, and it turns out that my use ofthe word “baseless” a couple of days ago was entirely on the mark.Phew, I was worried that I would look pretty silly about that.

What I find remarkable, though, is the things that peoplethought that Google would pull out of their hat today: From anamazing AJAX-enabled web Office Suite that would eviscerateMicrosoft Office, to a full-scale operating system (again to attackMicrosoft…all things revolve around Microsoft). The expectationswere super-sized. While Google is undoubtedly a very technicallycapable firm full of some extremely clever people, and they’ve gota brilliant business plan that allows them to put more money andresources into web apps than just about anyone, the leap fromGoogle Maps and Google Mail to an Office competitor iscolossal.

Of course we’ve seen this sort of ridiculous over-estimation ofMicrosoft’s competitors before. It’s been the Year That Linux TakesThe Desktop for half a decade now (isn’t Microsoft supposed to bedead by now?), and the great Java Office suite is always just alittle ways from being viably competitive, and of course the mostfamous of all was Netscape: Here was a company that put together apiece of software of a complexity level comparable to Windowsaccessory applications, and suddenly they were perceived as thecompany that was capable of anything – toss together a full-scale,feature rich operating system and all supporting applications Whynot! Netscape, despite delivering a couple of fairly simplisticapplications, could accomplish anything in the eyes ofmany. Well, actually they couldn’t, and their browser codebasestarted to rot until they were irrelevant, with scavengers pickingat the corpse. Whoops!

I root for no side in the great Google versus Microsoft fight,and ultimately I hope the competition serves the consumer verywell, however there needs to be some realism in the expectationsthat people are setting.