Google Packs a Grab

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-01-06 Print this article Print

Bag"> The Google Pack bundle includes Mozilla Foundations Firefox Web browser, a version of Norton AntiVirus software from Symantec Corp., Adobe Systems Inc.s Reader software, RealNetworks Inc.s RealPlayer multimedia software, Trillian instant-messaging software from Cerulean Studios, GalleryPlayer HD Images and Lavasoft ABs Ad-Aware anti-spyware software. Google Pack will also include Googles own Desktop Search software, Google Earth satellite imaging and mapping software, Picasa photo-management software, Google Talk instant-messaging program, Google Toolbar for Web browsers, Google Video Player (announced this week) and Google Pack screen saver software.
Google Updater installs and maintains the software and alerts users when updates are available. Norton AntiVirus will be included as a six-month subscription for download with the option to renew for a regular fee, Symantec officials said.
Google Pack is currently available for download with a single installer on the site, but PC manufacturers and analysts speculate that the bundle or pieces of it could be preinstalled on desktops and notebooks in the near future. Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc. already ship all or most of their PCs, both commercial and consumer, with Google Toolbar. Intel Corp., announced this week that it is collaborating with Google to provide video search for its Viiv entertainment platform. HP is examining Google Pack, but has made no plans as to how it will take advantage of the bundle for its desktops and notebooks, said Ann Finnie, an HP spokesperson. "Weve had great response from users on the [Google] Toolbar and some elements of it are very compelling," she said. Other elements would not find a market among corporate users, she said, such as Picasa, which competes with HPs own photo management software, and Norton AntiVirus, which would be too weak for enterprise use. Is consumer hardware the next stop for Google? Read more here. Every component of Google Pack can be matched to a counterpart utility from Microsoft Corp., and many observers have pointed to the rivalry between the two companies for desktop real estate as a motivation for the packs release. "Theyve created a new ecosystem of applications outside of an operating system," Weiner said. "Its a very powerful distribution mechanism for what could be a wide variety of applications and services. The operating system is stable and unchanging … Theyre not thinking in those terms anymore. Theyve created a far more dynamic way of managing the devices you use." Joe Wilcox, a Microsoft analyst at Jupiter Research Inc., said the bundle is less about competing with Microsoft than driving search traffic. "Google has more important priorities than Microsoft, and [one of those] is getting more stickiness around its services," he said. "When you buy an operating system, you are invested in it, you return to it. Theres stickiness. With a search engine, youre merely typing an address in a browser. By releasing stickier products and services—Picasa, G-Mail, Toolbar—theyre creating stickiness [added] to the brand." Many consumer and SMB (small and midsize business) customers would be enticed by the cost-free aspect of the package, but most may have little need to download most of the utilities included, said Jim Locke, president of J.W. Locke and Associates, a systems integrator and president of the Small-Medium Business Technology Network. "There is a lot of interest in some of these products right now," he said. "But a lot of people are going to look at this and say I already have those and I dont need that, so whats the advantage? Until they come up with real applications to use in day to day processes, Microsoft has the desktop locked up." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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