This week, Stoneware announced it plans to integrate Google Apps into release 5.3 of its webOS. Organizations would be able to give remote and mobile users "seamless access to their Google applications alongside their existing corporate Windows and Web applications," according to the press release.
It's an interesting move, and would seem to put a damper on once-popular rumors -- circa 2006 -- that Google would offer a web OS one day.
Certainly, in theory, I'm all for this kind of thing. I can't help it -- I'm a big Google fan, ever since I discovered how well its spam filter worked with Gmail. Then it introduced Google Reader and Google Notebook, both of which I use on a daily basis.
I also love the idea of accessing desktop applications through my browser -- wouldn't it be nice if cut-and-paste were no longer the best option users had for moving information between applications? (Of course, there are other companies moving in this direction, including OpenSpan and Microsoft with its Sharepoint Server.)
The same day trade publications ran Stoneware's announcement, a Canadian-based Globe & Mail article revealed that Canadian organizations are rejecting Google's online tools because of privacy concerns related to the U.S. Patriot Act.
In one instance, professors at a Canadian university filed a grievance against the administration for using Google's services, saying doing so violated Canadian laws requiring organizations to protect private information.
I'm not an attorney, but it seems this could have legal implications for other SaaS providers. Even if you're based in the U.S., you might want to sit down with the company attorneys and explore the legal implications of SaaS contracts -- particularly those involving integration, where you might be sending your data to an outside company -- before you commit.