I don't have a home laptop, so when I travel, I'm pretty much either without Internet connectivity unless I can borrow a computer. It's not that I'm a luddite or anything, I'm just a cheap bastard. So, when my sister gave me her hand-me-down PDA to replace my old Palm, I thought it was just neat that it had built in wi-fi. I could check my email anywhere, even in a hotel while traveling. Now that wi-fi is available in the iTouch and probably state-of-the art toasters these days, that doesn't sound like much, but it was new to me.
I originally got a Yahoo email account many years ago because it was difficult for me to check my ISP email while traveling. Their web-based interface was accessible anywhere. Then I got a Gmail account becuase it was the new and shiny thing and I wanted to give it a try. So I check both now and then.
Or at least, I tried to. On the PDA, Google's apps load up very well. There's a mobile version of the search page and of the mail application. At my ISPs webmail interface it doesn't work quite as seamlessly, there's a lot of scrolling up and down and linebreaks are a bit screwy, but hey, it works.
Then I went to Yahoo. Did I get a poorly-laid out, but functional, page? Nope. I got a "Sorry, but you can't use this browser with Yahoo Mail" message and nothing else. It wouldn't even let me in.
This week, I got to sit in on a web and telephone based conference with someone at Google about cloud computing. In it, they talk about all the different ways people are accessing the Internet and what they're doing with it. It's very clear that Google is a company that just "gets it" when it comes to next-generation computing applications.
Honestly, I think that most people don't need the mega-functionality of Microsoft Office. I started using Google Docs when I was job-hunting and needed access to my documents both at home and at work. It's incredibly easy to use and the ability to have immediate access to your documents from anywhere can be invaluable. It would probably be perfect for most home users and even small businesses. Come on, when was the last time you needed to use the Mail Merge function of Word or inserted a Table of Authorities?