Thursday, August 24, 2006

Google's Gmail product receives MP3 support

Say you have an attachment to a Gmail email message you receive. No longer do you need yet another piece of software to open and listen to the audio file. Gmail users can now hear MP3 attachments directly in their web browsers through a Gmail popup window. Email-attached MP3 audio files are streaming using Google's Flash-based audio player, with no other software required.

What's the significance of this? For starters, I believe it's Google's way of subtly letting the world know that it is experimenting with taking certain functions many hundreds of millions of computer users rely on daily off of the desktop environment and into the browser. It's no secret -- or maybe it is -- that Google wishes to try and duplicate (read: replace) many locally-installed programs like audio players, spreadsheets and word processors with online versions used exclusively through a web browser.

In one sense, Google's attempt -- early in the game -- to bypass Microsoft's programs and bring the most-used applications direct to customers over the web is startling, even if it's incredibly low-key at this time. Sure, Google can't just replace the "operating system" layer in a computer that melds software and hardware communications. But beyond that, its attempts to mimic other installed pieces of software is causing my rather large eyebrows to curl a little.

© Centre Of Discovery