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October 1, 2007

Adobe gets into the online office app scramble

Posted by David Hunter at 11:30 AM ET.

Coincident with Microsoft’s announcement today responding to all the online Web office application bustle, Adobe jumped into the game by announcing the acquisition of Virtual Ubiquity, a vendor with an online word processing application conveniently built on Adobe RIA tooling, and also announced an online file sharing service.

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity and its ground-breaking online word processor, Buzzword. The acquisition furthers Adobe’s commitment to foster a vibrant ecosystem for rich Internet application (RIA) development that delivers breakthrough experiences built on Adobe AIR. Separately, Adobe added a new file sharing service to its current online document services. Codenamed “Share,” the beta service will make it easier than ever for people to share, publish and organize documents online.

Buzzword, an elegant online word processor, enables individuals to work together to create high quality, page perfect documents. Because it was built with Adobe Flex™ software and runs in the Adobe Flash™ Player, Buzzword enables greater document quality, outstanding typography, page layout controls, and robust support for integrated graphics, regardless of the browser or device. The application also will run on Adobe® AIR™, offering users a hybrid online/offline experience and the ability to work with both hosted and local documents. The powerful collaboration capabilities in Buzzword enable multiple authors to edit and comment on documents from anywhere, at anytime, while document creators can set permissions that virtually eliminate version control chaos. For more information on the acquisition and access to Buzzword beta software, please visit http://www.adobe.com/go/buzzwordfaq .

Adobe also made available today a free online document sharing service, codenamed “Share.” Users simply select the documents they want to share, send a message to recipients, and set whether the files will be publicly accessible or restricted. Built with Adobe Flex technology, the rich interface provides a smooth experience, integrating simple workflows to upload and share documents with high quality online previews to speed up finding the right document. Additionally, the beta will include a set of REST APIs to let developers create mash-ups with their applications, including storing and accessing files, as well as creating thumbnails and Flash-based previews of documents. People can learn more about the service and sign-up for access at http://www.adobe.com/go/labs_share .

One would think that with all the folks jumping in, that there was some immediate payoff in the offing. I would suggest that it will be a long hard slog for the Web apps to knock off Microsoft Office, but the potential is certainly there to put a crimp in a significant Microsoft revenue stream. How well it pay for the Web app vendors is a different question, since they are essentially commoditizing the office application space.

Update: There are some brief reviews of Buzzword from Rafe Needleman at WebWare, Josh Catone at Read/Write Web, and Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch. The key take away is that because Buzzword is a Rich Internet Application (RIA) that uses Adobe Flash or Flex, it is considerably better looking than the average Web app, even as spiffed up with a liberal dose of AJAX.



Filed under Adobe, Commoditization, Coopetition, Microsoft, Office, Word

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