Exec: Google is a 'Native Web Speaker'

Former Microsoft executive Vic Gundotra is helping Google make applications platform- and device-independent.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.- Sometimes it's the little things in life that lead to great epiphanies. Vic Gundotra, a vice president of engineering, has one such story to tell, and his daughter to thank, for his joining Google.

It happened at a dinner party. When one of his friends asked him a question he didn't know the answer to, Gundotra's four-year-old daughter, Tiger, asked where his phone was.

Gundotra realized that his daughter asked him for his phone because every time he didn't know the answer to something, she'd seen him whip out his Palm and do a Google query. Of course, Tiger didn't know that Google was responsible for imparting the knowledge, but she knew the phone was the place to look when daddy was stumped.

"That's what the information age is," Gundotra said. "Every question that is knowable is answerable because of the power of Google."

Gundotra began working for Google in June 2007 and is responsible for mobile and developer platforms. Before Google, he spent 15 years at Microsoft working on various iterations of the Windows operating system and presiding over the company's move from Win32 to the .Net architecture.

Gundotra's new mission at Google is to help facilitate the company's growth in Web applications, many of which have and will be adapted for handheld devices such as Apple's iPhone.

But Gundotra isn't working on Android; rather, he's responsible for tailoring Google applications like YouTube, Gmail and Picasa so that they can run on devices and platforms as disparate as Symbian, RIM, Microsoft and Apple.

Recently, his team, which includes hundreds of programmers, rolled out a new application that lets users access the company's search, Gmail, Calendar and other applications on the iPhone, as well as Google Calendar synchronization for RIM's Blackberry device.

"As more applications are built to the Web, it's the same thing to us as having more content on the Web," Gundotra told eWEEK in a meeting on Google's campus Dec. 12. "It attracts more users. Obviously, we have a direct business correlation to the growth of our Web and the growth of our business."

Google revs more Apps for the iPhone. Click here to read more.

Gundotra also said that will continue pursuing its successful strategy of adapting consumer-oriented technologies for the enterprise market, with social network OpenSocial and Gadgets, the company's widget offering, soon joining the list of crossovers.

Programming for the Web is, of course, an entirely different culture than programming for a single software platform, and Gundotra has taken to the new culture with all the zeal of a convert. "The previous platform I was responsible for evangelizing helped one company. The Web helps all of mankind," he said.

Gundotra demurred when asked if Microsoft just doesn't get Web development. He said some companies are native Web speakers, while others speak Web with a heavy accent.

Click here to read more about Google's new Android operating system.