Adobe joins rest of industry in going for Microsoft's throat

Adobe tonight is announcing that they’ve bought Virtual Ubiquity, makers of the very cool BuzzWord (which is now open for public trials). For the details, go and see TechCrunch’s post cause I’m too lazy to write up all the news word-for-word (I was driving when I got the call, so might have missed some important detail and we were both embargoed until 9 p.m. tonight — I’m sure this news will be covered in depth by tons of bloggers) I saw this at an Adobe event a few months ago and wondered why it hadn’t been acquired yet cause it’s a lot nicer than what other companies have shown me so far like Google’s Docs.

Adobe also announced a cool new widget that’ll make sharing files easy, especially PDFs, which will be automatically rendered by this new widget. I’ll play around with that and see how it compares to some of the others from places like Microsoft’s Folder Share and Box.net, among others.

I was briefed on Friday by Adobe and asked them whether this represented a new strategy for Adobe and whether or not we’d see more acquisitions. The non-committal answer on the other end of the phone told me the answer. Look for Adobe to make other moves in the near future to dive further into the deep end of the Web 2.0 Work 2.0 pool.

Don’t pay attention to what Adobe is doing here, though. Alone it doesn’t seem all that significant (even though, to me, it represents a real shift in strategy and an interesting one, to boot). But, rather, look at the bigger “Work 2.0″ trend that’s underway here. I doubt that any one company will end up owning a monopoly share the way that Microsoft really controlled Work 1.0. It’s rare that I see an office worker who isn’t using Microsoft’s Office. Walk through an airport and on almost system you’ll see Outlook/Excel/PowerPoint/Word.

But, I love the new collaboration software that’s coming along. The trend got moving with Skype, but includes things like Zoho’s Office suite, Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets, the recent purchase of Zimbra (now owned by Yahoo), Edit Grid, Etelos, Atlassian, Skitch, 37 Signals (Basecamp, etc), 30 Boxes, ThinkFree, SmartSheet, Spresent, Grand Central or Callwave, Vyew, Stixy, and Concept Share. I’m sure I’m missing stuff, please add in your own favorites to the comments here and I’ll keep updating my post.

Or, as Jake Luer says: anything that keeps 18 versions of the same doc out of my inbox (I asked everyone tonight about what services came to mind when I said “Work 2.0.”).

These new services let you work with people in a whole new way. No more emailing around Word Docs or Spreadsheets or PowerPoints. Instead you pass around a URL, and work there.

Now, is Microsoft in trouble? No. Office is going to sell well for quite a few years still.

But there is blood in the water. If you try all these companies listed in this post you can work together with people in new ways that simply aren’t possible using Microsoft stuff.

Anyway, Adobe tonight just added onto the pile. This is significant. It’s amazing to me that Microsoft is letting all this competition build up strength and power. How long before people other than the “insiders/early adopters” start switching over to these newer services? I know I’m using Microsoft stuff less and less. There IS blood in the water even if only the early sharks can smell it.

UPDATE: More on TechMeme about these announcements.

UPDATE2: Microsoft itself is working on an online collaborative word processor, Mary Jo Foley says. Again, don’t get waylaid by the word processing announcements here. The bigger picture is more important.

Comments

  1. Google Docs is relatively amazing to me and a project I recently completed. Although the formatting in GDocs was horrendous, we were able to work around the clock, even during overlap hours.

    But… I don’t trust some things, like contracts, sitting on Google’s servers, or anyone else’s for that matter.

    I don’t know where this is going either, but I agree, the blood is in the water, but execution is going to have to improve now that the capability is clear.

  2. Google Docs is relatively amazing to me and a project I recently completed. Although the formatting in GDocs was horrendous, we were able to work around the clock, even during overlap hours.

    But… I don’t trust some things, like contracts, sitting on Google’s servers, or anyone else’s for that matter.

    I don’t know where this is going either, but I agree, the blood is in the water, but execution is going to have to improve now that the capability is clear.

  3. Yawn. I consider myself pretty clued up but I’ve heard of almost none of those things you listed. We’ve got years and years and years until joe public gives a crap.

  4. Yawn. I consider myself pretty clued up but I’ve heard of almost none of those things you listed. We’ve got years and years and years until joe public gives a crap.

  5. Robert – I hope by “Work 2.0″ you are really referring to small business/startups – because if you think big business is anywhere near embracing dozens of external applications to create, share and archive their intellectual property you are just wrong.

    Those functions will stay in-house and will be limited for creation on specific corporate platforms (Office for the next decade).

    Don’t underestimate the paranoia of big business, ot the power of their IT departments.

    Sure – some will change to web-based solutions – but those will be inside the firewall and they will be corporate-mandated applications. But even that will take a lot of time.

    Rob

  6. Robert – I hope by “Work 2.0″ you are really referring to small business/startups – because if you think big business is anywhere near embracing dozens of external applications to create, share and archive their intellectual property you are just wrong.

    Those functions will stay in-house and will be limited for creation on specific corporate platforms (Office for the next decade).

    Don’t underestimate the paranoia of big business, ot the power of their IT departments.

    Sure – some will change to web-based solutions – but those will be inside the firewall and they will be corporate-mandated applications. But even that will take a lot of time.

    Rob

  7. Rob: that might be true if you are only watching the front door, but I know a LOT of people at big companies and they are bringing this stuff in through the back door in WAVES.

    Can IT control this stuff? Ever hear of EVDO? Translation: no.

  8. Rob: that might be true if you are only watching the front door, but I know a LOT of people at big companies and they are bringing this stuff in through the back door in WAVES.

    Can IT control this stuff? Ever hear of EVDO? Translation: no.

  9. I could not agree more that the rise of online-only apps will change the way we work, and change the big green numbers on Microsoft’s bottom line. But Microsoft is not the old dinosaur sitting by letting the start-ups eat it alive.

    SharePoint 2007, along with the radically redesigned Office 2007, are light years ahead of any of these online-only document or project management apps. Their hybrid approach (Web collaboration w/ desktop software apps) is really powerful, especially for people who travel. Not only can you get your docs online from anywhere, you can pull them down, use a powerful suite of editing office apps, then load them back up for the next guy to take a look.

    I hope companies continue to innovate in this area. Adobe’s push is exciting. But when it comes down to what I pick to use for my agency and my clients, for the time being I’m using Microsoft SharePoint.

    Look forward to following the discussion. Buzzword is a beautiful tool.

  10. I could not agree more that the rise of online-only apps will change the way we work, and change the big green numbers on Microsoft’s bottom line. But Microsoft is not the old dinosaur sitting by letting the start-ups eat it alive.

    SharePoint 2007, along with the radically redesigned Office 2007, are light years ahead of any of these online-only document or project management apps. Their hybrid approach (Web collaboration w/ desktop software apps) is really powerful, especially for people who travel. Not only can you get your docs online from anywhere, you can pull them down, use a powerful suite of editing office apps, then load them back up for the next guy to take a look.

    I hope companies continue to innovate in this area. Adobe’s push is exciting. But when it comes down to what I pick to use for my agency and my clients, for the time being I’m using Microsoft SharePoint.

    Look forward to following the discussion. Buzzword is a beautiful tool.

  11. Adobe was talking up BuzzWord during the ‘on Air’ tour, in Toronto at least, so I guess this is pretty concrete proof that they were impressed.

  12. Adobe was talking up BuzzWord during the ‘on Air’ tour, in Toronto at least, so I guess this is pretty concrete proof that they were impressed.

  13. Wow… I agree this is huge. The opportunity here to go beyond the way we think today about office apps is huge. I know MS is counting on Office and Sharepoint to maintain their share of market with corps, but friction is not a good way to maintain loyalty. Something bigger is happening here.

  14. Wow… I agree this is huge. The opportunity here to go beyond the way we think today about office apps is huge. I know MS is counting on Office and Sharepoint to maintain their share of market with corps, but friction is not a good way to maintain loyalty. Something bigger is happening here.

  15. Great post Robert! I saw this at Adobe AIR in Chicago last night. It sounded like there was more to it, but they didn’t give it up. I also checked out share.adobe.com, Adobe just posted a blog entry about it, it has potential as well. I had a feeling that Adobe would be announcing something big in Chicago for their Adobe MAX event aftering seeing all the effort they put into the AIR event.

  16. Great post Robert! I saw this at Adobe AIR in Chicago last night. It sounded like there was more to it, but they didn’t give it up. I also checked out share.adobe.com, Adobe just posted a blog entry about it, it has potential as well. I had a feeling that Adobe would be announcing something big in Chicago for their Adobe MAX event aftering seeing all the effort they put into the AIR event.

  17. Robert – it’s not a question of whether the apps come in the back door or not – it is about file formats. As long as the corporation has a standard format (and right now and for the immediate future that is Office) these apps will have to be either VERY good at replicating the Office file formats (and they aren’t) or the corporate user will be forced to use the corporate standard (Office).

    I do agree this is a significant technological breakthrough. I just don’t think it will change business this year, or next. Not big business – at least not in a big way.

  18. Robert – it’s not a question of whether the apps come in the back door or not – it is about file formats. As long as the corporation has a standard format (and right now and for the immediate future that is Office) these apps will have to be either VERY good at replicating the Office file formats (and they aren’t) or the corporate user will be forced to use the corporate standard (Office).

    I do agree this is a significant technological breakthrough. I just don’t think it will change business this year, or next. Not big business – at least not in a big way.

  19. I don’t know why basecamp is always thrown up as the groupware product, its a good to do product, but check out http://www.copperproject.com if you want a real MS Project alternative that has everything on basecamp and more (yet is still more elegant)

  20. I don’t know why basecamp is always thrown up as the groupware product, its a good to do product, but check out http://www.copperproject.com if you want a real MS Project alternative that has everything on basecamp and more (yet is still more elegant)

  21. I almost feel like saying “hey I told you so”.When we chatted albiet briefly on Kyte.tv about the move Adobe are making which are securing their product within the 2.0 space.

    I dont think that MS are “allowing” the competition to grow I think the size of the beast coupled with a “Vista must succeed” focus and the apparent disinterest in yet another Office release are causing Microsoft to be on the back foot rather more than it investors wish.

    The Internet has never been a place were MS has managed to deliver clear products. Whilst they try to control its co option of the desktop via their Browser its not working efficiently to staunch the loss of interest in its desktop.

    Thanks for posting this one Robert.

  22. I almost feel like saying “hey I told you so”.When we chatted albiet briefly on Kyte.tv about the move Adobe are making which are securing their product within the 2.0 space.

    I dont think that MS are “allowing” the competition to grow I think the size of the beast coupled with a “Vista must succeed” focus and the apparent disinterest in yet another Office release are causing Microsoft to be on the back foot rather more than it investors wish.

    The Internet has never been a place were MS has managed to deliver clear products. Whilst they try to control its co option of the desktop via their Browser its not working efficiently to staunch the loss of interest in its desktop.

    Thanks for posting this one Robert.

  23. “Blood in the water”?
    LOL
    Sorry, but no serious business is going to use ANY of these apps for “collaboration”. First, the web-apps themselves suck.
    Second, Microsoft has robust collaboration solutions for business use.
    Now, if you’re just some geek wanting to collaborate on unimportant things like fantasy football or chocolate-chip cookie recepies, then fine, use this web-app crap to do the necessary collaboration.
    Serious minded folk won’t use this stuff for anything serious.

    You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of when AOL bought Time-Warner (and yes, at the time the “merger” occurred it was AOL buying TW). AOL changed Time Warner’s internal email system from Exchange to AOL Mail. After all, web-mail was the incoming thing; there was no need for internal email systems anymore, right? As you may guess, the experiment led to a wide-scale revolt, Exchange was brought back fairly quickly, and those that tried to force web-solution where it didn’t belong were reprimanded and/or dismissed.

    Same thing here. Business are not going to sacrifice 95% of MS Office’s functionality just for the opportunity to use web-apps for collaboration.

    Another thing this reminds me of is all of the web-appliances that were announced in the late 90’s. None of them used MS software, and I remember an article trashing Microsoft saying, “Web-appliance is code for ‘No Window’ and there’s nothing Microsoft can do about it!”, or words to that effect. Today, there is only one of those web-appliances left. And it’s Microsoft’s!

    This also reminds me of Novell going on a buying spree to create an Office suite to take down Microsoft. In the late 90’s, Novell bought fellow Utah tech company Word Perfect, Borland’s Quatro Pro, and some Presentation app. Two years later, they had run Word Perfect into the ground, the Word Perfect employees had left so nobody was left that even knew the details of the source code, and finally Novell sold the whole thing to Corel.

    Scoble, these companies you listed only *think* they smell “blood in the water”. Companies have thought that in the past too.

  24. “Blood in the water”?
    LOL
    Sorry, but no serious business is going to use ANY of these apps for “collaboration”. First, the web-apps themselves suck.
    Second, Microsoft has robust collaboration solutions for business use.
    Now, if you’re just some geek wanting to collaborate on unimportant things like fantasy football or chocolate-chip cookie recepies, then fine, use this web-app crap to do the necessary collaboration.
    Serious minded folk won’t use this stuff for anything serious.

    You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of when AOL bought Time-Warner (and yes, at the time the “merger” occurred it was AOL buying TW). AOL changed Time Warner’s internal email system from Exchange to AOL Mail. After all, web-mail was the incoming thing; there was no need for internal email systems anymore, right? As you may guess, the experiment led to a wide-scale revolt, Exchange was brought back fairly quickly, and those that tried to force web-solution where it didn’t belong were reprimanded and/or dismissed.

    Same thing here. Business are not going to sacrifice 95% of MS Office’s functionality just for the opportunity to use web-apps for collaboration.

    Another thing this reminds me of is all of the web-appliances that were announced in the late 90’s. None of them used MS software, and I remember an article trashing Microsoft saying, “Web-appliance is code for ‘No Window’ and there’s nothing Microsoft can do about it!”, or words to that effect. Today, there is only one of those web-appliances left. And it’s Microsoft’s!

    This also reminds me of Novell going on a buying spree to create an Office suite to take down Microsoft. In the late 90’s, Novell bought fellow Utah tech company Word Perfect, Borland’s Quatro Pro, and some Presentation app. Two years later, they had run Word Perfect into the ground, the Word Perfect employees had left so nobody was left that even knew the details of the source code, and finally Novell sold the whole thing to Corel.

    Scoble, these companies you listed only *think* they smell “blood in the water”. Companies have thought that in the past too.

  25. Getting to one 2.0

    It has come to my attention that an other area of life has been updated. In the same way that the web was replaced by Web 2.0 work has now been replaced by Work 2.0. See Robert Scoble here .

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  27. @Bob: You make a good point about large companies. But not all adoption is driven by enterprises. Over 50% of the U.S. economy is driven by small and medium businesses. Any many of them are using these emerging solutions to get the job done. The adoption of “Work 2.0″ type on-demand applications in this segment is much greater than many people think.

  28. @Bob: You make a good point about large companies. But not all adoption is driven by enterprises. Over 50% of the U.S. economy is driven by small and medium businesses. Any many of them are using these emerging solutions to get the job done. The adoption of “Work 2.0″ type on-demand applications in this segment is much greater than many people think.

  29. @Don Campbell: What is your evidence that small and medium businesses are clamoring for online word processors?

    My experience is that just like Second Life, just like Twitter, and just like podcasts, the demand for online word processors has been created, puffed up, and almost completely exists only in the blogosphere, which just gets more and more out of touch every day. The real world doesn’t care.

  30. @Don Campbell: What is your evidence that small and medium businesses are clamoring for online word processors?

    My experience is that just like Second Life, just like Twitter, and just like podcasts, the demand for online word processors has been created, puffed up, and almost completely exists only in the blogosphere, which just gets more and more out of touch every day. The real world doesn’t care.

  31. Robert, you can add Approver.com to your list…like the Microsoft offering we offer the ability to share Office documents (or OpenOffice, etc.) online but we also enable users to edit in the browser like Google Docs as well, without storing your documents in Google’s (or Microsoft’s) brain.

  32. Robert, you can add Approver.com to your list…like the Microsoft offering we offer the ability to share Office documents (or OpenOffice, etc.) online but we also enable users to edit in the browser like Google Docs as well, without storing your documents in Google’s (or Microsoft’s) brain.

  33. I like the re-naming to Work 2.0, because I think the concept will eventually cover not just the Office applications, but enable core business processes. When? I can’t prognosticate on that, but there is probably just as much desire to “Work” differently in all areas of business.

  34. I like the re-naming to Work 2.0, because I think the concept will eventually cover not just the Office applications, but enable core business processes. When? I can’t prognosticate on that, but there is probably just as much desire to “Work” differently in all areas of business.

  35. […] offering free, Web-based word processors just got longer. Today, Adobe is entering the Webtop game (watch out, Microsoft Office) with its announcement that it will purchase Boston-based startup Virtual […]