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 Adobe checks into Office

Published 6/26/2008 5:57:00 AM - General

In late 2007, Adobe acquired Virtual Ubiquity and marked its entry in the online office application market.  Virtual Ubiquity had a free online word processor called Buzzword based on Adobe flash- meaning it was platform-independent and could run on any OS (Windows, Linux or Mac).

Adobe Buzzword screenshot

By then, Google had already helped establish the concept of online office applications with the launch of Google Docs. There are numerous online office applications available in the market today, such as Zoho, Zimbra (acquired by Yahoo), Microsoft Office Live and Thinkfree.

However, one of the features that set Buzzword apart from others is its sleek interface – it can manage and display the document through a graphical medium which gives users a rich document experience. Additionally, one important concept that Buzzword works on is the collaboration (same as Google Docs) where instead of sending documents out to others through email, people are invited online to contribute content or just to add comments.

Working on Software as a Service (Saas) model, Adobe is trying to dive deeper into online collaboration area by integrating its existing portfolio with Buzzword. Towards this objective, the company has started offering Adobe Connect, a desktop sharing application. Also, Adobe plans to nurture Buzzword and I presume we would soon see spreadsheet and presentation applications in the future. However, its main focus is to first achieve total integration between Buzzword and its existing product portfolio.

Adobe’s attempt to build services around its strong core offerings, with a view to provide a greater value over traditional desktop offerings, is a smart move. The Buzzword integration is a step forward towards collaborative on-line work model and we should not be surprised to see an offline version of the word application based on Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) technology in the future as well.

Nevertheless, there are few challenges for Adobe to face in the area of online collaboration work: The biggest one is to change the mind set of large user base – From corporate to individuals, it will be quite difficult to switch people from typical desktop environment to online collaboration work concept. People like to talk about emerging technologies a lot but hardly use them in daily life. The second one is the flash-dependent platform of Buzzword which works slower than an HTML version. However, a lot of innovation can be expected on this front.

The online collaborative work model is interesting and will gain momentum in the future but the implementation in real-life space could be much slower. Nevertheless, Adobe’s move in this space will definitely push other companies to develop better and quicker products in the near future.

Go ahead and take a test drive with Buzzword at https://buzzword.acrobat.com/ (You need to download the latest version of Adobe Flash to use the application)

By Manish Bahl

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