Friday, July 13, 2007

Alternatives to Google

It seems that with each passing day Google keeps getting bigger and bigger, and keeps gobbling up start-ups and churning out cool products. And everyday we become more and more dependant on them. Once upon a time, Google used to be just our search engine of choice, now its our email provider (GMail), feed reader (Google Reader), blog host (Blogger), entertainment provider (YouTube), and a hell lot more. And not surprisingly more and more people are trying to move away from them, or at least wondering if its possible. So let's take a look at some of the alternatives we have for Google's services.

1. Web Search: Search is Google's core business and they are best at it. Alternative search engines do exist and a handful of them work amazingly well, but the problem is each of them only suit a few people really well, and are practically a nightmare to use for others. Refer to Read/Write Web's Top 100 Alternative Search Engine list to find one that suits you.

2. Image Search: When looking for photos try Flickr or Zooomr. These two happen to have the best collection of photos on the web. Smugmug is also a great one. If you're looking for images rather than photographs, try Snap Images.

3. Blog Search: One word. Technorati.

4. Google Video: Since Google also owns Youtube the only other good alternative seems to be DailyMotion. DailyMotion is as old as YouTube, and although its not as popular as Youtube, it has a loyal following, and it always has new and interesting videos to waste your time.

5. Google News: If you always want the latest news, the best thing to do would be to add news feeds to your feed reader. If you prefer getting your news from one single site try Newsvine. Not only does Newsvine have all the latest news, its layout and design is also easy on the eyes. Newsvine's strongest feature is its columns which, although written by the users, are always surprisingly well-written, thought-provoking, and witty.

6. iGoogle: Google is a late entrant into the personalized homepage market, and as such, there are a lot of rival products that are better than iGoogle. My own personal favorite happens to be Netvibes, which is light years ahead of iGoogle in terms of ease of use, features, and aesthetics.

7. GMail: Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail Beta, are the only viable alternatives.

8. Google Calendar: 30 Boxes, is more than just a calendar, its a personal organizer. Like Google Calendar its easy-to-use and has a simple interface, but unlike Google Calendar it has strong social aspects, and can integrate with Flickr, Webshots, Upcoming.org, LiveJournal, MySpace, and Facebook.

9. Blogger: Wordpress is an open source blogging platform that is used by some of the largest blogs on the web, include several corporate blogs. You can use Wordpress on your own web server, or use Wordpress.com to get a free hosted blog. Several other free wordpress hosts also exist.

10. Google Docs and Spreadsheets: Zoho Office Suite not only has a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications but also database, note-taker, wiki, CRM and many other applications. All applications can be used as standalone products, or with other applications. Zoho Office suite also proves their word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications for use on the iPhone as iZoho.

11. Google Reader: NewsHutch. Although Denounce is a pretty awesome RSS Reader for the desktop, that makes use of WPF, read my review of it here.

12. Google AdSense: Bidvertiser and BidClix, are two alternatives to AdSense that let you become an Ad Publisher for free and start earning money. Yahoo! Publisher is also a great alternative, but is still in beta stage.

13. Google Analytics: IceRocket's Blog Tracker is perhaps the only free alternative to Analytics that is even close to being as extensive and useful. Blog Tracker is easy to use and is under active development (although their blog doesn't seem to be updated often). I, myself use both and find myself using Blog Tracker for often, only using Analytics when I need an in-depth view about my blog's stats.

All in all, although there are many alternatives present, only a handful of them are better than or as good as Google's offering. And until some of Google's rivals become more innovative, we are stuck with Google. Although its not so bad, after all what other company has a corporate motto that says "Don't be Evil".

1 comment:

Dalila said...

You write very well.