It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…

Check out this snapshot of Techmeme today. As is typically the case, Google scratches it’s left ear lobe and an entire industry of bloggers kicks into gear dissecting what it means. The NYTimes claims it’s a Microsoft Sharepoint killer while Allen Stern declares they are going after pbWiki. The AP wire report, which also runs in the NYT has a somewhat different view of this, calling it a website builder. Rafe Needleman makes the observation that it’s a nice wiki even though Google never uses the word wiki. TechCrunch also calls it a wiki and quotes a Google exec calling it a “Sharepoint killer”.

So what do we know for certain: it’s a wiki and they are targeting Sharepoint. What is not said? Sharepoint is much more than a wiki, it’s probably more accurately referred to as a portal, and the wiki features are acknowledged by MSoft to be very weak. Microsoft does feature wikis from both Socialtext and Atlassian as add-ons for Sharepoint, lending credibility to the notion that they don’t see themselves as competitive in the wiki space.

Google could in fact take on Sharepoint but it’s going to take a lot more than a better wiki to do it. For starters, I would make Google Sites an OpenSocial container, which should not be too difficult given the fact that the same people were involved in both projects.

Google Apps is in total a threat but at some point Google is going to have to do something more meaningful than the bits-n-pieces act. Dan points out that Google is fighting the stigma of offering lightweight apps, but as long as they fail to release numbers such as how many companies are actually paying Google for premium apps, it’s unlikely that the market will take them seriously. Businesses are not moved by the notion of free apps because buying an application really isn’t the barrier companies face, it’s supporting users and meeting requirements.


9 thoughts on It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…

  1. Pingback JotSpot Born Again as Google Sites, the Wiki-less Wiki.| Zoli’s Blog
  2. As one of that tiny group who uses Google Apps (just docs at this point) and as a former marketing manager at a collaboration software company (BlueTie) I know that getting people to understand anything about collaboration software is practically impossible. I’m talking about regular business owners, not techies. Even in the tech world the word means too many things. But when I share a Google doc with a client or partner they suddenly get it, probably because it lands in their inbox and they need it. I think both Google and MS suffer from having too many tech geeks and not enough regular business types in their organizations determining strategy. If you show someone how collaboration works, in their world, and make it really really easy then it will spread. Releasing products like this Jotspot upgrade won’t work until they understand a lot more about marketing and do a better job explaining what it is. Even very savvy media writers don’t seem to know how to describe it. Get your message together before you release guys. And keep it dead simple.

  3. New Google Sites Application Misses Mark

    After waiting expectantly for the release of Google Sites, the success to Jotspot, for more than a year, I must confess I’m pretty disappointed in the result. The user interface is clunky and non-intuitive and offers little new in the way of collaborative tools, other than Joomla-esq shared web page editing.

    What happened? Google already has a terrific widget enabled web page creation tool. It’s called Blogger! Why didn’t they use that technology to make dropping various functional elements onto a page easy?

    The ability to quickly create an Intranet/Xtranet of four to twenty pages is what most of my SMB clients are looking for. Doing this with SharePoint has always been too developer and infrastructure intensive, leaving us to recommend products like WebOffice (formerly and Blue Tie as web-based collaboration tools.

    BlueTie in unique in that it offers unique ways for partners to monetize the solution and generate a unique ongoing revenue stream. In fact, BlueTie was recently recognized as an OnMedia Top 100 Winner.

    Google has missed the mark badly with its Google Sites application. It’s unfortunate, because it takes the pressure off Microsoft to improve SharePoint’s ease of use and Cisco to lower the cost of WebOffice.

    Until Google releases a Google Sites application that is significantly easier to use and functional, I will continue to recommend WebOffice, Blue Tie or our own TeamPro application as a Intranet/Xtranet solution.

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  5. I got the impression most blogs were picking up on the statement by Google’s Management Director of Enterprise Matthew Glotzbach that Apps is a Sharepoint killer, and spread the word without doing any analysis of the statement. In fact, a lot of business-oriented applications get covered in the blogosphere from a techie POV, when they really apply more to strategic thinking.

    Even if Google Apps had all the integrated features and use controls of Sharepoint, it’s not a “Sharepoint killer” until it’s marketed and packaged as an enterprise-class solution, not a free-to-paid tool for whoever might stumble upon it.

  6. I think it’s hilarious and illustrative how little people seem to know about SharePoint. Here is one of the foundational components of Microsoft’s enterprise stack, a $1 billion product (if MSFT can be believed…I wonder how they arrived at that figure), broadly deployed in the enterprise, and people are comparing it to a very bare-bones wiki service.

    I’m biased, since in my work for PBwiki, one of my jobs is figuring out how we can sell against, or more likely, co-exist with SharePoint. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel that this is one case where Google may have wrong-footed itself.

    While declaring Google Sites to be a “Sharepoint killer” might pass muster with those unfamiliar with the enterprise, I doubt it will win Google much love from IT decisionmakers.

    Heck, if Google Sites comes up with a potential PBwiki customer, I’ll just tell the salespeople to point ’em to Dan Farber’s post:

    Hard to believe that folks will want to use a product where they have to grant Google a “perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and nonexclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services”.

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