Google Calendar Now Online

After months of speculation, Internet giant Google released a beta version of Google Calendar.

The free Web-based event planner is another step in Google’s pursuit of Microsoft’s domination of productivity applications. It also begins the entry of the Internet powerhouse into social-networking.

Integrated with Gmail, the
calendar service gives users the ability to easily create, share and
discuss multiple calendars and events.

They can create calendars for work, home and
play. Events are either entered into the calendar or Gmail will find
mention of an event and automatically add the date to your calendar. To
find an event, a new search-bar has been added to the e-mail service.

Because each event has its own Web address, sharing calendars with
co-workers or friends is painless.

Google’s goal was to make the service “drop-dead simple,” said Carl Sjogreen, product manager for Google Calendar. “We heard from our users about their frustration with the current tools,” explained.

Google wanted to breathe life into the calendar concept through sharing
and simplicity, Sjogreen said.

Along with synchronization with Outlook, a
goal is enabling users to tag events to share with the world. In addition to e-mail, users can use Apple’s iCal standard and the RSS format to exchange calendars.

Vamsi Sistla, an ABI Research analyst, thinks Google Calendar is just the latest in its “arsenal” against Microsoft.

But Microsoft, which plans to announce an upgrade of Outlook later this
year, won’t sit still. The company will likely adapt features found in
Google Calendar to the software giant’s desktop enterprise application,
Sistla said.

“Microsoft and RIM will get their ducks in a row,” he said.

Still, an audience exists for Google Calendar, Sistla said. Google could offer its calendar application as part of a bundle for low-end computers or phones aimed at teens, which is where the social-networking aspect comes into play.

The same people attracted to the community nature of will be drawn to Google Calendar, said Sistla.

But for the enterprise user, Google gets no cigar, he added. If Google Calendar is integrated with more than Gmail, there could be
greater chance of success.

“If they integrate their calendar application
into Google Finance, where people who are tracking the stock market
would like to save the earnings, splits and other market-related
information, that would be highly useful in building up their user
base,” Sistla said.

Google competitor Yahoo also has a calendar site. In 2005 Yahoo acquired, a Web-based social event tracker.

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