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. icon
    Mike (profile), 1 Oct 2007 @ 9:34am


    Ah Sam,

    Always good to hear from you, because if there's one thing I can guarantee, it's that you will misinterpret what I've said, and not bother to understand the details. Usually it's because you think I'm advocating infringement when I'm not. In this case, it's an even more egregious misunderstanding. Next time, before you say something like:

    you're a hypocrite.

    Maybe you should take the time to understand what I've actually said.

    you have pounded the table for quite sometime, that the music industry (ie musicians) should essentially give their music/bits away, and use them as a means of driving other revenue sources. why can't you in this case do the same thing. why can't you release your results and in effect use the results to somehow drive other revenue sources??

    Indeed. And we do give away lots of our research (go ahead and look). In this case, though, the research is not ours to give away. Our contracts are pretty clear that we don't own the research that the community creates. Each individuals owns the rights to his or her own content. If they want to give it away, they are free to. At the same time, whoever commissioned the research is also free to do what they want with it, including give it away.

    However, as I've also explained to you (and I guess you've ignored), is that one of the models for paying for content is to pay for the creation of content, rather than content after it's been created. That's because content before it's created is scarce -- so that's exactly what we've done. Companies pay for the creation of the content, and then *they* get to decide what to do with it, as to the individuals who created the content. We'd love it if they decided to give it away and give us more publicity, but it's their decision, not ours.

    are you going to say, it's because the results that you create are in fact the primary way you drive revenue?

    I won't because it's not true, as I explained above (and as I've explained in the past).

    are you going to say you'd have no issue releasing the results, but the client paid for them, and the results are the client's property? give the client back their money, and release the results. the client wouldn't care, they'd get your work product for free!

    Here's your usual misunderstanding, claiming that we're saying that it's ok to give away other's content without authorization. We've never said that, despite your claims.

    However, there's a third misunderstanding here too, and it concerns the value of different types of content. When you're talking about mass market content, such as songs, movies or TV shows, you want it to be as widely spread as possible, and that's what drives the price down to zero.

    When you talk about custom research, the value is only to a tiny group of people (or even just one person), and therefore, the value is in only that person having it. The economics here are quite different.

    would you mind if i somehow got the bits, and placed them on the net, for any/all to copy? hopefully you wouldn't, as you've long said that musicians/artists should look at that kind of action as a way to promote the other revenue generating functions the artist should be engaged in.

    As I have said, if the content creators and/or those who commissioned the content want to free it for promotional purposes, that's up to them. We do not, and never have, supported the idea that someone else should take the content and free it. For you to continue to claim that is simply wrong. I cannot tell if you do it on purpose or if you really just can't understand this simple fact.

    so, i ask you mike, what reason can you give for not "releasing" the results, that wouldn't be able to be said from the artist's point of view?

    As described above, it completely fits with the economics we put forth here and it always has.

    Thanks for checking, though.

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