It's never a dull moment when it comes to Google, Microsoft and Apple (which is why I write about them so much), and this week Google and Microsoft made some big announcements.
For Google, it was Google Wave, an incredibly hyped new communications interface (more on that it in a moment). From Microsoft, it was the HD Zune and Bing, its new search engine (which I wrote about just the other day in Microsoft Ad Wars Turn to Google).
The New HD Zune
I've been as derisive as the next guy when it comes to the Zune and sales of Microsoft's answer to the iPod have been abysmal (as I wrote in Zune and iPod: The Tale of Two MP3 Players), but at first glance, this new Zune looks pretty cool. You can watch a video of it in action in this AppleInsider post, which called it the "better than the iPod Touch."
That may be engaging in a bit of hyperbole. It's always best to take a wait and see approach with Microsoft until you get your hands on one, but judging from this video, it has a very nice interface. Unfortunately, the video quality was not good enough to see the HD display in detail and that could be a huge differentiator.
But as I wrote about Microsoft's attempts to catch Google, they are so far behind Apple in MP3 player market share that even a hugely successful launch of this new player, wouldn't amount to much. Plus they have to overcome Zune's reputation as a lesser player and Apple's cool factor. They should price it way below the Touch and throw in a subscription to Zune Pass for a year. That might get them some traction.
And Here Comes Bing
Next came Bing, which is the new search engine from Microsoft. They are tripping over themselves to call it a "decision engine" not a search engine, even going so far as to post their announcement at decisionengine .com. It doesn't seem to be live yet for testing purposes, but the video on the site says its goal is to help with you four basic types of search: local search, travel planning, health questions and shopping.
Like Wolfram Alpha, it seems to be more of a tool in the arsenal you'll use for specific types of search, rather than a go-to search engine. Fact is I have sites I got to for travel planning and health questions. For shopping, I can still use Google, but I like the local search angle. It's one that has yet to be fully exploited in spite of years of discussion about this. If Microsoft could just become the go-to source for local search, they would be doing something, but still wouldn't make much of a dent in Google's overall consumer search domination.
A Wave From Google
Which brings us to Google Wave, which Mashable's Ben Parr says could redefine the way we think of email, of which he writes:
Google has just announced Google Wave, a new in-browser communication and collaboration tool that is already being hailed by some as the next evolution of email. Yes, Google Wave is potentially that disruptive.
He goes on to write: "the concept behind Google Wave is to “unify” communication on the web. It’s a hybrid of email, web chat, IM, and project management software."
What's more it's open source, something that Zoho's CEO Sridhar Vembu’s is particularly excited about. He wrote of this possible use in the Zoho Blogs:
"Let's say you are working in Zoho Mail, and a colleague shares a Zoho Writer document with you. You will see a notification in the chat bar in Zoho Mail, and you can choose to open the document right from that notification. When that document opens in Zoho Writer, the chat bus carries the real time editing information back and forth."
To be honest, I have to see it before I can get too excited about the hype around it, but it has the potential to be a very interesting tool. That much is certain.
So a busy week from our favorite corporate behemoths. And the world keeps spinning round and the titans keep on clashing. Just another week in technology.