Now they’re doing a browser?!

Susan Mernit has a nice wrap-up (with 14 links) on all of the rumor mongering going on about Google fielding a browser, or as Scoble hints, perhaps something even bigger…

Considering everything Google offers after 6 years (save Search) is still beta, you have to wonder what’s going on over at Google. Is allowing their developers to spend 25% of their time on whatever they want producing results… or simply slipping ship dates? Are they in a vicious analysis paralysis cycle, continually redoing their strategy, instead of executing on a vision and refining it based on market and competitive response?

I honestly can’t tell. Surely they have the talent. And now they have the money. But beyond that, it’s a bit mystifying what exactly those thousands of employees are up to, and if they have the necessary focus to ship software (beyond a toolbar) that could be used on 100MM’s of PCs with varying configurations.

Furthermore, while I (and you) understand the value of moving further upstream in the value chain (and claiming precious desktop real estate and user mindshare), is it that significant an advantage that it justifies the costs of developing and supporting software on all of the necessary platforms, OS versions, languages, etc? And if it is, is a browser the best bet? Does it really make sense to enter into a market share war for a free piece of software with commoditized functionality (even on the back of Mozilla)?

I suspect that Scoble has the right perspective here; if in fact Google is going to go the software route, they are going to do it in a way that leapfrogs a “mere” browser… perhaps incorporating blog authoring, rss reading, picture sharing (Picasa), email reading/writing (gmail), and of course web/local/product/hard-drive search… an information/communication “Works” program, if you will. Let’s see what happens…

Update: More detailed thoughts on what they might be up to.

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