YourSearchAdvisor and TechCrunch report on a meeting sponsored by the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce last week for local businesses about forthcoming developments and enhancements for Google Apps and Docs. The speaker was Scott Johnston, former VP of Product Development at JotSpot, which was acquired by Google in late 2006. Most of these enhancements are slated to make their appearance next year.
Here’s a summary of key points on the roadmap from what YourSearchAdvisor wrote:
Google Sites: Launching in 2008, this will combine Google Page Creator and JotSpot tools to let business to set up intranets, project tracking, customer extranets, and other content. I don’t recall wikis being mentioned specifically, but I assume they are part of the plan.
Offline Tools: Can edits happen offline? Yes, via the Google Gears plugin. And an algorithm will figure out how to reconcile work done offline by someone with work someone else has done online.
OCR: Maybe someday Google will do optical character recognition, but not yet.
GrandCentral Integration: It’s a “huge priority,” but there’s no timing as to when.
Advanced Spreadsheet Features: Will Google Spreadsheets ever get things like pivot tables, macros, or database integrations? “Scott said they are constantly trying to find the balance between speed and utility. It will never be a heavy duty analytics program because that would be too heavy and bulky for the average user.”
Video Conferencing: Google Apps doesn’t support it, but “body language:” from Scott suggested it will come someday.
Many of these features expand the Apps/Docs suite beyond simply being an Office competitor into a variety of new arenas. What’s also interesting, that Miller reports, was the sales pitch at the meeting to local businesses for the Premier Edition, for which Google charges $50 per user per year.