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May 02, 2006

Reality Check: Goowy

I'm going to add a new kind of posting. Sometimes I need a "reality check" on products or services--that is, I'd like to know what other people think of something I've found. (After all, what someone fifty-one years old thinks is cool, might not be cool.)

Here's the first one:


This is a free product/service that integrates (ala AppleWorks back in the eighties) instant messaging from AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ plus email, calendar, contacts, games, and file storage.

Please send your comments. You can also vote here:

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» Tasty Links - 2006/05/02 from Student PR Blog
Last weeks print edition of The Economist just came into my hands, and it features a massive survey of new media. I havent read it yet, but its certainly worth checking out. Dave Sifty of Technorati: English not the blogosphereR... [Read More]

» The complexity of simplicity from JasonKolb.com
Software users are a fickle bunch. Make software too complex, and they hate it. Make software too simple, and they hate it. Guy Kawasaki posted a question earlier asking what people thought of Goowy, a Web desktop in the crowd [Read More]


Hello first thing I need to tell you is ( this is not a scam ) I am a 51 year old man and I am Disabled and I live with my wife and granddaughter I have been Disabled for 14 years I have severe rheumatic disease severe Fibromyalgia a Bad knee which makes me wear a leg brace and a degenerate disease in all my joints which makes it very hard to just get around I have to get help from my wife to do anything. We only have $800 a Month to live on to some that is a lot but with heating ,electric, phone and all the things it takes just to live it is not much and it just breaks my heart to have tell my granddaughter she cant have that candy bar or maybe you will get that doll for your birthday when I know it is not true we are frizzing in our own home we have very little money for anything else even food and I have no savings and I cant get any gov help because I make to much money for even food stamps so hear I am the only thing I know to do ask for your help if anyone could just send 5$ or just 1 or 2 $ it would sure help God bless you all Jim send money to 445 E P st. Atchison Ks 66002 again God Bless You All ( this is not a scam )

What a bummer. Tried to test-drive but thwarted by incompatibility (same issue as above ). Seems to have similar tools to some other sites. Still prefer trillian for IM aggregation. Looks like it would be a step in the right direction, tough.

I tried using classic.goowy.com because my Linux Firefox only has Flash 7. Why does it keep saying that the site is down whether I choose the Flashy or Lite version?

Ahh... this would make the $100 laptop easier to build.

Well, great app, nothing to do with it. I am tech savvy, but I just can't see myself having my whole desktop thorough my browser - especially when FF support is not that great. I use netvibes as my homepage and Airset as my calendar, both are great applications. Airset also have a sync tool for my outlook so I am satisfied with it, and I can't see myself switching to these whole in one kind of sites. I have a laptop, and if I need to access my PIM from a lighter device, I use a PDA that already has all this functionality in it. Maybe if it was clear which market they are targeting, it was easier to evaluate it.

My 0.02$


Thumbs UP. This is where it's all going, and Goowy are undercutting competitors like Google who should quite honestly have been providing this service for some time now.

For me, it's a 'silo' issue. I feel uneasy about having my data locked into one service where I can't get at it if Goowy goes under, or if I want to use that data with another service.

The instant messenging component is great, because it pulls together data from other services -- but again, I'd rather use Meebo, or Portable Trillian.

If I could access my GMail and Google Calendar instead of the Goowy versions, then I'd consider it. As it stands, it feels too proprietary -- and that's a dealbreaker, coming from a company like Goowy that has no brand capital for me yet.

I'm ambivalent.

It seems OK, but it also incorporates too many features.

People seem to shy away from sites that overdo the functionality.

Most people want one function done incredibly well.

It's not something I would use.

I think that this is a decent step up for a normal internet user. Its the next step/ progression from your average joe schmo that has just discovered my yahoo or the google homepage. All these comments hacking at it seem to come from power users not your average user. Sure there are lots of apps that do many of the same things goowy does better, faster, cleaner....that doesnt matter. The average user wants something thats simple to set up, and is pretty to look at. Goowy is those things. The only major downside risk that I see is that it takes up a fair amount of resources and bandwidth.

The bottom line, people wanna look cool and this is a web 2.0 app that if seen in a starbucks ups your "geekstreet cred" it may not be O.G. but it gets the job done.

This kind of web desktop is interesting.There is one in chinese http://www.aiddi.com. You can cut & paste columns or blocks between any web page and your web desktop

Thanks Guy - I hope you will post a followup (quotes from your favorite responses, as well as as your own opinion of Goowy).

Here's my opinion of Goowy:

Goowy is a problem in search of solution. I suppose Goowy's advantages over the status quo (a normal laptop) are: portability and cost. That's not enough. No one I know, including teens and nontechies would sacrifice all the advantages of a normal laptop for only that.

I am guessing Goowy is meant for people who can't afford their own laptop but do have easy access to a computer with a PC with broadband. I think USB Drive solution (e.g. www.u3.com) is a better option for most of these users.

How would I improve Goowy?

- Improve their marketing message. In a highly competitive space, they need a hook. I came away from the demo vaguely impressed, but with no compelling reason to use this particular product.

- Add productive tools. THey've got great games but I expected to work on this site? A basic but good word processor and spreadsheet would suffice (sadly, I've never seen anything web-based that is competitive with word or excel).

- Promise security. Nontechies are extra-fearful about security, and want to know their content is hackerproof (and government-proof too, ideally). I didn't see any prominent mention of security.

- Improve user experience. It's crazy to even try to get an OS-like experience inside a browser and they did a good job, considering. The UI is as graceful, which is an impressive technical achievement, but it's still crude compared to XP - can't move dialogs or alerts. Latency is weak in many places like the options dialogs, even on broadband. Overall, AJAX is still not competitive with a normal laptop.

As upbeat a summary as I manage: Goowy's strength is their UI design and execution. They've made a new OS-like experience simple to use. My hat's off to them for that. I doubt it's possible to improve the online OS experience to be comparable to a cheap laptop but if they do, and add good productivity apps, they might have a hit.


No one third companies' products can be as good as original.

geez that site is S L O W.
I like the idea of having centralized tools under one account, but why flash, and why a cheesy ripoff of OS X? I already have a desktop. Don't need another one.

Hi Guy,
nice Idea, but I don't like Flash...
Have a look at http://www.netvibes.com, they have tons of Functions, and everything is run on AJAX (JS). But in general, things like that are web 2.0!
Greets Henning


don't use an uneven number of possible answers, people tend to prefer middle ground; use an even one and force them to make a choice.

- Steffen

Way too slow. Integration of IM clients is irrevelant to me, since I use mainly Skype. Besides, the integration with box.net didn't work well for me. Netvibes.com is my choice at the moment.

Wow, Guy. Tough crowd, eh? :)


No kidding. Glad I didn't do a reality check on Google and eBay when they were just starting out. :-)


Well, there seems to be a lot of these... I did not see the competitive advantage this one has. Slick interface, but same apps we always see...

You should discriminate your voting system a bit more... I don't want to post a Thumb Down, but I am cold towards it... I suggest th following:
1- very warm
2- warm
3- cool
4- cold
5- very cold

... toward it.

I appreciate the time everyone has taken to look at the application. Your feedback, both good and bad, helps us improve goowy.

I also wanted to comment on some of the feedback below.

Goowy as a product is still in a relatively early stage of evolution. Our goal was to release a core set of communication and sharing tools in a desktop-like environment and then evolve the tools to take advantage of some of the inherant benefits of being web based ie. collaboration, sharing, distribution, etc.

There will be a lot of enhancements to our core applications over the next 30-60 days that will make them more 'dynamic' and relevant to the end user than their desktop counterparts.

Additionally, we are not targeting the business community. We are focused on creating an evironment and experience where a younger demographic can manage and share their personal communications and content.

agreed with many others. Nothing too spectacular I think. If I need to access an integrated messaging deal, I would go with www.meebo.com for a quick login instead of this one here.

these days, too many web products are solving problems that none of us are having.

Definitely "me-too" in all retrospect but the name is catchy and there is a definite need. However, it isn't something I would personally use. Might be better tailored to schools and trying to increase interaction between teachers/substitutes or what not. In addition to providing teachers with everything they would need. So as far as catering to the school demo, I see the need but personal use, I wouldn't use it.

I really think that ajax/flash desktops are coming along really well. I don't exactly like this one the best but it definitely has some good features in it. I mean I reall feel that 5 years from now almost all applications will be web based. Sure they will have client based counterparts but 90% of peoples time will be spent in a web browser or people will use a client based application only to upload to a web based one.

On the downside these ajax desktops just don't provide a large enough variety of QUALITY applications for me. I like using them as a portal to the rest of the internet but as a end all be all site, not yet.

It is admirable that they put in so much work to create this app. That said, it is a pity they didn't think it through a bit more before coding it.

First of all they are trying to replace something that is already available on each desktop. The only advantage would be that it is 'portable'. But in the age of laptops and WIFI, most advanced users (the ones that understand apps like these) have everything they need in their bag while traveling.

Secondly it is a missed opportunity that they didn't use the qualities of the medium they are using. Being online has a different meaning than working on your 'private' desktop. People will switch from desktop to online if the apps have an advantage that would not be available on a 'static' desktop. This web-based GUI has some major limitations which are not compensated by any kick-ass feature.

And lastly, it is clear that they've spent a lot of time on the basic OS. But at the places where the interaction should be optimal, like creating a new appointment in the calendar, the GUI gets ugly and not very helpful. Their standards should have been just a bit higher.

Where is the outside of the box thinking on this?
I see nothing unique, nothing new. Software world is full of this same old stuff.
They even fell on the marketing spyware spikes.
Make me a product that I can't live without. I dont see anyone here posting that they MUST have this product.
Come on people... make some WOW.

After being a long time lurker on Mr. Kawasaki's blog, I am wondering how this will work.

You hold a large sphere of influence and whereas, schwag is the web version of payola, I am wondering if people are going to or have already tried to start asking you for reviews for their software.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out because you will see a dramatic increase as popular a-listers post a new software app.

How will you be considering which apps to review and which not to review? If I wanted my app reviewed how would I go about doing that?

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