A more powerful Web:What can be counted on for the foreseeable future, though, is Google's strong desire to make the Web more powerful by enabling Web apps to tap into local processing power that PCs, Netbooks, and now even mobile phones are getting. Google's overall argument is that people who spend more time online will use its search service more--and therefore use its search ads more.
And 3D technology built into the Web could make Google Maps more immersive--not so much a series of snapshots but instead like a flight simulator or first-person shooter--a smoothly changing perspective that lets a virtual perspective move up and down terrain contours and among 3D models of buildings wrapped with real-world imagersy. Google has said its trying to bring its Google Earth experience to Google Maps, and a plug-in such as O3D is one way to accomplish the task.
But Google also has another big business, Google Apps, the company's next billion-dollar business, according to Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. Notwithstanding Google's protestations that it doesn't want to re-create the full feature set of Microsoft Office, there's no question the company would like to be able to do more with its online spreadsheet, word processor, presentation, e-mail, and calendar software than it can today. Google's acquisition of online photo editor Picnik indicates it's interested in broadening the scope of its applications, too.
Glitzy 3D interfaces may be a low priority for online word processing. But it's one element of what it takes to make a polished user interface for the full range of applications on a computer today and on the cloud tomorrow.