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.

By | 2015-03-18T07:49:56+00:00 May 2nd, 2006|Categories: Books, Uncategorized|Tags: |46 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. j.c.sackett May 2, 2006 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I’m not sure–on the one hand, it does seem interesting. However, there are a *number* of applications that already perform a lot of this integration, at least for IM/IM analog services.
    That, and it appears to be a strictly web based service, which I’m generally leery of. Such applications tend to either succumb to maintenance issues on the production side or ennui on the user side.

  2. BC May 2, 2006 at 8:31 am - Reply

    On the fence. A little nervous about running everything away from my personal laptop. Doubtful that corporate firewalls will like this site any more than the others.
    1. Advertsising model for revenues — I’m tired of advertising everywhere. For something I’m going to use frequently, I’d rather it look just like an app.
    2. Maintenance issues right now (11am EST 2 May)
    3. Good demo: clear, helpful, well-designed.
    4. Does not yet have the one sentence summary of purpose.

  3. Gareth Bourne May 2, 2006 at 8:35 am - Reply

    It is very interesting, and possibly very useful. There are a number of similar sites around. They have obviously ‘borrowed’ a lot from OS X, which I think is a little weak and unnecessary. If they could achieve two-way synchronisation between your existing desktop email, calendar, address book and data then it could be everything .Mac currently isn’t, but open to Windows users as well. As it is then I don’t think it will go very far.

  4. Jason Kolb May 2, 2006 at 8:36 am - Reply

    It’s nice because it brings everything together in one place. However, I’ve actually used it in the past and it has speed issues like a lot of Flash sites. That, and like others have mentioned, the idea of keeping all of my personal stuff on somebody’s server frightens me a bit.
    Now, if they allowed me the choice of storing my “stuff” in Amazon S3, or GDrive, or Microsoft’s Live Drive, that’s a different story, because I could easily cut off Goowy’s access if I felt the need. Maybe that’s already underway, the ability to do that is relatively new (about a month I believe for S3, the others aren’t out yet).

  5. ThePef May 2, 2006 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Where to start. I like the interface, but I am not into the aggregation model on one webpage. It is kind of like having a desktop inside of a desktop. That being said, I do believe that the core model of moving traditional internet based applications to the browser is a great one. But I am just as happy to launch under one tab, and another application within another tab.
    So, I think the longterm move will be to move applications to the browser, but I don’t thing aggregation is the answer. The more important aspect is the ability of these applications to interact with each other.
    One other important note: at some point corporate IT will realize this is a great move, since it will greatly reduce the number of help desk calls and move material to locations where it can be properly backed up.

  6. Edouard May 2, 2006 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I left the service 4 weeks ago due to performance issues, third party to store my file and no undertanding of the business model…let me explain that, as a user I don’t want to be used to a service storing all my datas if I don’t undertsand how they can survive…and if they collapse, what happens ?

  7. robster May 2, 2006 at 9:17 am - Reply

    It’s Flash, which is somehow annoying. I can’t put my finger on it really, maybe it’s the slightly sluggish performance, maybe it’s the not-so-great thing that you can’t really use the Refresh and Back buttons on the browser, maybe it’s the slightly fuzzy text.
    I did see all the features and think ‘cool – if it was an Ajax app’.
    I think the fact that a product like this is out reveals the serious lack of real web/rss/chat/integration of the OS, whether that be Windows or Mac. My desktop at home is my desktop at home and there’s no real way right now I can share it so I can view it at work. Goowy, Netvibes etc are a kind of half-step to that. The real triumph will be when we can have a single space where we can run the apps we own, use our files, bookmarks, news feeds, email – and access that from everywhere in a united interface that runs smoothly…

  8. Lorenzo Planas May 2, 2006 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Looks good, however it is a bit slow for me.
    I think by trying to do a bit of everything it’s gonna be hard for them to stand out on anything.

  9. Calvin Yu May 2, 2006 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I think this is a “Jack of all trades, master of none” kind of product. It’ll draw some people initially, but once people find out that there are other applications that will do some of these specific tasks better, they’ll switch. I don’t see how Goowy can keep up.

  10. Rodolfo May 2, 2006 at 9:32 am - Reply

    You forgot to add a 3rd option: irrelevant.

  11. smittie May 2, 2006 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Cute interface. Looks just like the OS X running on my Mac. Nice to know Apple is still setting the pace.
    I’d like to find a good, web based IM client. I need that occasionally. The rest of it? No thanks. It’s very Web 2.0. I’m just not sure that I want to be there yet. I still like having my files on my computer. Wi-Fi is pretty ubiquitous at this point and laptops are cheap. 10, 12 years ago when Internet access was largely confined to desktops, this might have been more attractive. Today, I have no need or reason to have the functionality offered by goowy on the web.
    Thanks for point it out though. It’s always cool to see what people are doing out there.

  12. Daniel May 2, 2006 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Cool toy, interesting from a technology perspective, but why / what for would I use it?

  13. Doug Hanna May 2, 2006 at 10:22 am - Reply

    If you haven’t already heard of it, you may want to check out Meebo ( I believe). It’s funded by Sequioa Capital and is pretty interesting.

  14. Mike Johnston May 2, 2006 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Nice… However… Tee this one up:

  15. Michiel May 2, 2006 at 10:41 am - Reply

    While it is flash, it is also flash. By which I mean the interface look slick but its completely in flash. That might or might not be a bad thing depending on your view of flash.
    I don’t take to flash, but its nice to see people actually USING flash instead of coding pointless and annoying site intros that everybody skips.
    It seems fairly feature-complete.
    What it all comes down to is scalability and business model; I have no clue as to either.

  16. Phil May 2, 2006 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Don’t see anything here that I can’t do better with Google and/or Backpack.
    Plus the name is just bad–an obvious play on GUI and Google.

  17. Creative One May 2, 2006 at 10:53 am - Reply

    I have to agreed with everyone here…this is an old idea with a new User Interface. I don’t see any WOW factors here!

  18. Student PR Blog May 2, 2006 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Tasty Links – 2006/05/02

    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 blogosphere&#82…

  19. Alexey May 2, 2006 at 11:47 am - Reply

    No real focus, it seems. It would be more of value, if it allows me to sync MyDocuments from my various PCs, my contacts from my various PDA / Mobile / Outlook / Lotus Notes repositories… you get the drift. Like someone above said, more like .mac for the rest of us.

  20. Eric Anderson May 2, 2006 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    “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.”
    Sounds to me like a operating system. Except you are letting someone else choose all your apps for you and giving them complete control of all your information. As others noted, what is their business model?

  21. Ken Rossi : May 2, 2006 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    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?

  22. Michael Taylor May 2, 2006 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    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.

  23. Sander May 2, 2006 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    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.

  24. Charlie Key May 2, 2006 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    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.

  25. John Nguyen May 2, 2006 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    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.

  26. Cap May 2, 2006 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    agreed with many others. Nothing too spectacular I think. If I need to access an integrated messaging deal, I would go with for a quick login instead of this one here.
    these days, too many web products are solving problems that none of us are having.

  27. alex May 2, 2006 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    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.

  28. Chrystian Guy May 2, 2006 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    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.

  29. Randy Bohlender May 2, 2006 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    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. 🙂

  30. May 2, 2006 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    The complexity of simplicity

    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

  31. Reinis Ikass May 2, 2006 at 11:24 pm - Reply

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

  32. Steffen Ritter May 3, 2006 at 12:08 am - Reply

    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

  33. Henning May 3, 2006 at 1:31 am - Reply

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

  34. aaron May 3, 2006 at 2:49 am - Reply

    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.

  35. Yuliya Pavlichenko May 3, 2006 at 7:27 am - Reply

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

  36. josh May 3, 2006 at 9:07 am - Reply

    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. 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.

  37. bridger May 3, 2006 at 9:21 am - Reply

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

  38. ryan libson May 3, 2006 at 9:27 am - Reply

    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.

  39. John May 3, 2006 at 10:03 am - Reply

    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.

  40. Jonathan Cohen May 3, 2006 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    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.

  41. Daniel M. Harrison May 4, 2006 at 4:23 am - Reply

    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.

  42. Kfir Pravda May 4, 2006 at 9:23 am - Reply

    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$

  43. Stuart Teo May 4, 2006 at 10:02 am - Reply

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

  44. oregonsixteen May 5, 2006 at 9:48 am - Reply

    I tried using 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?

  45. SDaniels May 13, 2006 at 11:07 am - Reply

    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.

  46. Jim January 20, 2007 at 9:38 am - Reply

    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 )

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