Google's advantages over Microsoft in leveraging the Internet to make money and attract users are well documented, but there is one area Google isn't playing in where Microsoft seems to have Google beaten: rich media applications.
Microsoft March 5 took its Silverlight rich Web app into its second beta. High-tech media and analysts love to position Silverlight as an alternative to Adobe's Flash technology, found on 98 percent of browsers worldwide.
If Microsoft could corral just a slice of the market Flash commands in this age of AJAX and rich Web apps, it would stand to make some serious cash in the Internet economy that Google aims to rule.
Google, art thou lost at sea? Is there a rich Web application in the works, perhaps code-named Gash or Googlelight? Or do you deal for Adobe to corner the market in one fell swoop?
A Google spokesperson provided eWEEK with its stock answer to questions about future plans, noting that its mission is to make all the world's information universally accessible. "We are constantly innovating to continue to deliver on our mission, but we have nothing specific to announce at this time."
The lack of an outright denial is conspicuous, suggesting that the search and applications maker has something up its sleeve. eWEEK polled some experts who follow the rich Web app space.
Gartner analyst Ray Valdes told eWEEK Google has purchased companies in image processing and graphics that could provide rich Web app capabilities.
For example, Google acquired Keyhole as the foundation for Google Earth, later adding SketchUp for 3-D modeling. The company also nabbed photo mapping provider Panoramio and graphic visualization tool Gapminder.
These technologies and the engineers associated with them, coupled with Google's close ties to the Firefox browser community, give Google the means to create a Silverlight killer.
Valdes said Microsoft created Silverlight as a lightweight alternative to its own Windows Presentation Foundation, which he said has been a tough swallow for many enterprises. His point is that Google should strike now while Microsoft scrambles to bring Silverlight to market.
"If they are at all on the ball, they're not going to let a competitor gain an advantage here unnecessarily," Valdes said. "You could even make the case that if they don't respond, heads should roll later."
Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond told eWEEK that while he's seen no evidence Google is preparing an answer to Silverlight, he wouldn't bet against it.