Battle of the Virtual & Actual Desktop

As discussed in an earlier issue of the Viodi View, Google, Adobe and Microsoft are increasingly crowding into each other’s traditional spaces.   Recent product offerings from Google and Adobe provide more evidence of this trend.

Google documents are available now in both online and off-line versions.  They automatically synchronize to the online version and tracks revisions, just like the pure online documents have.   The following video shows how it works, although I can’t find the offline option in my Google documents account.  Maybe it will be there in a day or two. 

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/offline-access-to-google-docs.html

Built on the AIR and Flex platform, Adobe’s Buzzword is another new alternative and it seems to be very good with regards to layout, comment capability and formatting.  It also works in both online and offline modes, like the Google documents.  With Adobe’s announcement of an online, no-cost version of Photoshop, integration between text and print (and eventually video) may never be eaiser.

At the Spring 2008 VON Conference in San Jose, I saw a very impressive demonstration from Communigate that is also built on the Adobe Air and Flex programs.  Communigate replaces the Microsoft Exchange server and makes it real easy to drag and drop files between different social applications, such as Instant Messaging and photos.  Since, it is all integrated, it makes for a single log-in for multiple applications.   From my limited knowledge of this space, it looks like a much easier to use, more capable and lower cost solution than the traditional mail-server applications.

The real interesting thing is that the Adobe platform can work on Linux platforms.   Google’s product, based on Open Office, has the advantage of bundling spreadsheets and presentations and it should also work on Linux, although I haven’t confirmed my conjecture. 

Once these applications have grammar checking I would be all set, as it is one feature I need.  The other issue I have seen is formatting between Google Docs and Microsoft Office products.  I haven’t used Adobe’s Buzzword to understand whether formatting is an issue with their product. 

If these small inconveniences can be fixed, then there may be some viable alternatives to the Windows/Office monopoly.  

The Virtual Business – A Telco Opportunity

This is an example of the video interface of the Pronto unified messaging client.Software as a service has been a big buzzword in Silicon Valley technology circles for a number of years. It finally seems to be filtering to the independent telcos, as evidenced by last month’s OPASTCO-Microsoft venture and this week’s announcement at NTCA’s Annual Expo that Goldfield Telecommunications and Communigate are partnering to bring the latter’s technology to independent telcos.

As reported previously in the Viodi View, Communigate offers a a communications suite, based on Adobe’s Flash and Flex 2 technology, which promises to integrate communications and multimedia applications via multiple devices, such as computers, cell phones, personal digital assistants and IPTV set-tops. This approach of software as a service is ideal for the SOHO or small business looking to offload some or all of the hassles and costs of I.T. support. 

In short, software as a service makes for more sticky customers. On a personal note, having used software services such as Google (mail servers) and Oracle’s Upshot (Customer Relationship Management), I am convinced that most small businesses will migrate to this approach over time. Software services could be great addition to a telco’s broadband bundle.