Is Google Your New Love/Hate Relationship?

A Google Docs outage and a reminder of Google's mobile innovation mastery compete for our attention in the same week.
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Dear Google, our relationship is getting a little complicated. You've never been a company that technology pros love to hate, in the way that many genuinely hate Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, or ever more frequently these days, Facebook. While we've had our privacy fights in the past, you've made your feelings clear. You've made our mobile lives easier, saved us money, and made consumerization of IT practical. But here's the problem: Once we love you, you have to be solid.

As Thomas Claburn notes in his no-nonsense column for, it takes just an hour-long outage of Google Docs, as happened Wednesday, to remind us: Google made a significant mistake. The company did not ensure that full offline storage and editing was available for Google Docs right from launch.

"The company recently introduced limited offline functionality, so you can store a limited number of Gmail messages, Docs files, and Calendar entries locally and access them when there's no network connection," Claburn notes. But offline editing? Not yet. Google had offered offline editing via its Google Gears technology for a while, but hasn't made sure users got this power back, Claburn writes.

We know software crashes. But a continuing problem for Google with enterprise IT is that when the cloud service is down and the user can't get the work done, he feels utterly stuck--as stuck as a man or woman waiting by the phone, powerlessly, hoping for a phone call to go on date number two.

As Claburn notes, this offline editing functionality is a no-brainer. Why hasn't Google done it?

Now on the flip side, as Eric Zeman points out, mobile technology users have many reasons to love Google and the Android OS. Yahoo's identity woes, punctuated by the firing of Carol Bartz this week, remind us how few companies are pushing mobile innovation as fast and hard as Google, Zeman writes.

AOL and Yahoo have pushed mobile to the back of their priority lists, and that's a shame, Zeman says. We need more Googles to ensure innovation, and to ensure rivalry, he argues, persuasively.

"Not that there aren't a million substitutes for what Google offers," Zeman writes "There are thousands of applications that are available to each and every smartphone platform to fill the gaps. The problem isn't the gaps so much as it is the integration and--even more so--the need for competition."

Few companies have taken the mobile risks that Google has. That's not good news for anyone who uses or manages mobile technology, because as InformationWeek editor-in-chief Rob Preston notes this week, great innovation requires risk.

So Google, we technology users and leaders are willing to make the relationship work. Please don't keep us waiting by the phone.

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.

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