The Mad Dash For Online Word Processors
from the here-they-come dept
It was inevitable in the wake of Google buying Writely, but it seems that plenty of other web-based word processor clones are now trying to get some attention in the hopes of being bought by someone else. One slightly different story, however, comes from Michael Robertson, who has now launched AjaxWrite — which seems right up his alley. People have incredibly strong opinions about Robertson as a person — but he certainly knows how to pick his enemies. Almost every business he starts (and he starts a lot) is basically designed to target a big name competitor, and basically undercut that competitor’s market by a huge margin — often in disruptive ways. He’s launched businesses that fit this description over and over and over again. Still, the “ajax” word processor market is already pretty crowded already (though, at mixed quality levels) and it’s still not entirely clear what it takes to get people to use such tools. Writely, for all its funky features, mainly seemed to catch on because it added a collaborative piece, allowing multiple people to all edit a document remotely. As a collaboration tool, that’s quite handy. Robertson’s AjaxWrite, on the other hand, just seems focused on offering up a quick and dirty, web-based, word processor. It certainly could be useful in a pinch for those who need to work with Word documents, and don’t have Microsoft Office (and don’t want to download and install Open Office), but beyond that it’s not clear if there’s a real market for this offering. The thing is, Robertson may not care that much. Lately, he seems to be starting new businesses at an increasingly rapid pace — and it’s not clear if he cares how strong any of them are as a business. He seems to just enjoy causing trouble. Amusingly, though, AjaxWrite could be disruptive to another of his own projects that he launched just a few months ago — trying to sell boxed versions of open source applications, like OpenOffice. It’s nice to see Robertson having fun, but it seems like an online word processing clone these days needs to do more than just mimic an old version of Word.