Google Calendar is ahead of schedule
Quick, what's the most used, least discussed software application around? Answer: calendaring software. With the "PIM" wars ancient history, most of us have been living in a Microsoft Outlook world, and the press has focused its attention on the higher profile battle between mobile computing platforms, like the Palm and Blackberry. Largely overlooked has been the growth and potential of online calendars. But yesterday, thanks to a new report from HitWise, the tech world turned its attention abruptly to the subject, and we can almost hear the "uh ohs" in Redmond. According to the HitWise data, Google Calendar, still less than a year old, has overtaken MSN Calendar in market share, and is fast approaching market leader Yahoo Calendar. The data was quickly picked up by Michael Arrington, who double-checked the trend against Comscore numbers and found that for once the two data services agree. "I'm not surprised to see [Google Calendar] getting traction against Yahoo and Microsoft," writes Arrington. "Those guys haven't put much attention into their own products lately."
The Browser, which jettisoned Outlook some time ago, and then moved in quick succession from Yahoo Calendar to Google Calendar, is not surprised either.
Well, when you look at the HitWise analysis that the big jump in clicks in December for google calendar came from Google Search--44% versus from Gmail 19%, I think it is obvious that many people were searching for Calendars to purchase at the end of the year for the upcoming year 2007 and noticed the intriquing link for "www.google.com/calendars". Whereas 48% of traffic to yahoo calendars was directed by Yahoo mail.
In addition, as the overall internet continues to grow, with more destinations and places for US Internet Visits--such as youtube, myspace, etc. it is very likely that the use of Yahoo and MSN calendar product may actually be increasing on a number of users basis, however, as a % of overall US Internet Visits it is decreasing because there are 100's of million ADDITIONAL hits flooding the web on these other expanding websites (e.g., myspace). I realize this is not the point of the article but it probably should be mentioned that users at all services may be increasing.
The best way to truly track these products is by the number of users, especially if my assumption about the search hits holds weight (which it might not). Regardless it truly is peculiar to see that less hits are coming from the gmail service verses other sources considering my experience with the calendar service of my choice is pretty much integrated with my use of email and address book.
Nice observations. I think it's safe to say that over time the linkage between email and calendar applications is strong, but some users may be willing to go for a long stretch with non-integrated apps. Like me for example. I was using Gmail and Yahoo Calendar for months before I went all-Google, and I switched because the Google calendar interface was just much more user friendly, fresher, took advantage of Ajax, etc.
For what it's worth, I think the killer app here is the seamless, over-the-air integration of any of these online PIMs and mobile devices. If Yahoo allowed over-the-air synch with my Blackberry, I'd have never switched. If Google gets around to it, I'll be hard pressed to switch away.
One last thought: public calendars. Extremely cool. Long promised, finally delivered. What's better than having the phases of the moon integrated in your daily view. Or, more Seriously, industry trade shows. Look for niche media operations, like blogs, to start doing calendar mashups.
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