As Charlene Li points out about Google Pack in her recent post—and this similarly struck me when when I downloaded it—Google and Yahoo! are developing direct channels onto the desktop in a way that, really, only Microsoft has done before. The hidden genius of Google Pack may be the updater that communicates with the user and notifies her of new software or software updates. Yahoo! has something similar in Yahoo! Central, which comes with Yahoo! Messenger:
Yahoo! Central helps you to manage your internet default settings, such as default browser, email, and browser home page and search. Yahoo! Central collects and transmits information about each of your sessions to help us identify issues, evaluate how our program is used and provide our services. Y! Central will be set to alert you weekly about Yahoo! software updates.
Clearly, this is nothing new. Software companies have done this many times in the past. But the power of Google and Yahoo! in the marketplace—and the intensity of competition between them and Microsoft—makes this something noteworthy.
Now Google and Yahoo! don't have to pull users to their respective sites to introduce new products. They can push those products directly to the desktop (or at least push notices to users). Of course, there are issues of trust and privacy. But think about the B2B side of this as well:
"Hey SME you've tried our consumer products, now test drive our new simplified online marketing tool." (No feet on the street needed.)
Or a variation on that theme:
"Here's your small business dashboard" … to manage your parallel universe (vs. MSFT) of SME tools and software.
Imagine the possibilities …