Suddenly Everyone Wants An Online Office Suite

from the how-to-compete? dept

Just a couple weeks ago, we noted that both Google and IBM were coming out with free products that competed with Microsoft's dominant office suite offering, noting that it was looking increasingly like Microsoft supposed monopolistic domination of the space might not be as strong as some (i.e., European regulators) believed. It certainly looks like more companies smell blood in the water. Adobe has now announced that it has purchased Virtual Ubiquity, makers of an online word processor called Buzzword, just to throw some more well-backed competition into the space. Of course, at some point, you have to wonder how this market shakes out. Obviously, Microsoft is still dominant, but can that continue when it charges so much against free products? The real question, though, may be what everyone else in the market can do to compete. We recently had the Techdirt Insight Community tackle exactly that issue for a client, and the experts there came up with a few key areas that online office suite providers should specialize in to differentiate themselves from both Microsoft and Google in the space. We can't share that specific analysis, but if you're in that space and want the Community to help you craft a strategy to stand out and succeed, contact us.

In the meantime, while I can't reveal what they said, I can give you my own quick analysis for free. It's going to be very difficult for most of these online office suites to get much traction if they don't have a larger platform to plug into. Players like Zoho and Thinkfree are basically trying to build that platform from scratch, but they'll probably need to open up more to third party developers if they want to really gain traction. Google can succeed in the space, in part just by being Google -- but also as it continues to integrate its office suite offerings into other parts of Google. If and when Google finally does realize that it's become a platform play, then perhaps they'll open up the ability to develop apps on top of Google's office apps as well. On Adobe's side, they're trying to build this platform, but it's unclear how much adoption it's really getting or how well they'll be able to integrate this new purchase into the platform play.
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Filed Under: office suites, online
Companies: adobe, google, microsoft


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  1. identicon
    comboman, 1 Oct 2007 @ 9:21am

    Re: Interoperability will be the key

    What we don't need is a bunch of competing formats, with less than 100% compatibility. It needs to be; that a document opened in any platform looks exactly the same, spacing, font, attachments, footnotes, everything. I'm a fan of monopolies when they make life easier and better.

    They do? Ever try to open a Word 95 file in Office 2007? Microsoft changes their document format so often they can't even maintain compatibility with themselves. And the only reason they do it is to keep the competition from figuring out their formats and becoming compatible. If you're truly a fan of 100% compatibility then dump proprietary formats like Microsoft and use an Open Document Format suite like Open Office.


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