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Multimedia Smackdown

Yesterday, Google announced plans to be more up-front and clear as a company. CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at Google Press Day 2006 (where Google launched four new products, including Google Desktop 4) told reporters, “We’re committed to a much more transparent way of working with you all.”

Great. Right.

I would have ignored the announcement (and that bit about Google’s new product launches – there have been so many at this point…) if not for an interesting article over at Information Week. Here’s a quick soundbite…

The major innovation in Google Desktop 4 is Google Gadgets, small applications that can live on users’ desktops or inside the Google Desktop environment. They’re Google’s answer to Apple’s Dashboard widgets.

For Apple and Microsoft, this has to be a troubling development: More and more of the programs they sell in their operating systems are being offered free by Google. Moreover, these programs are open and they have APIs that developers can build on. And just as Amazon creates book recommendations based on user purchase history, Google plans to leverage its knowledge of its users to pitch programs that dovetail with their interests.

Google vs. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft? After all, Apple did just align itself with Microsoft’s Windows. And Google has been nitpicky with Microsoft lately (no doubt partly on account of an earlier alliance with Firefox, including ad support). Amazon snubbed Google to forge a deal with Microsoft. And eBay, it too! Is there a major multimedia smackdown a brewin’? If so, it makes sense that Google is trying to dust off its image (ahem, China) and get some hearts-and-minds action going.

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