Google buys Writely and the blogosphere swarms. The aggregators/memetrackers, with some algorithmic help and hand kneading, provide ample evidence. It's a good example of how the blogosphere operates--thousands of bloggers converging on a hot topic and the aggregators/memetrackers sorting and filtering the output for human consumption. It's the hot conversation of the day or hour.
Paul Kedrosky has a good take on this swarming. Google sneezes and the blogosphere usually goes into action. But the Writely deal isn't a ground breaker. Kedrosky says the size of the deal and the Writely installed base isn't a cause for a feeding frenzy. He attributes it to the anti-Microsoft factor:
About the only thing you can point to is that it seems juicily disrespectful to Microsoft. Hey, to that way of thinking, here's Google going after the heart of Microsoft's business.
Really though? As analyst Rick Sherlund points out in a note today, this represents, optimistically, maybe 6% of Google revenues. Buying Writely seems more about wistful Google-hoping for the return of collaboration than a real shot across Microsoft's bow. But collaboration is more of a business thing than a consumer thing, and it's hard to imagine enterprise customers getting very worked up about Writely. No workflow, no local backup, no easy in-house tracking ... even if you ignore the gaping feature disparity, this is not an enterprise replacement for Microsoft Word.
No, all the buzz seems more brrrrzzzzt. A great big raspberry. As the saying goes, "My enemy's enemy is my friend", and while bloggers may be uneasy about Google, they demonstrably dislike Microsoft even more. So they positively love it when someone blows Microsoft a big wet one.
While Writely doesn't suggest an full-fledged MS Office competitor, it fits into the notion of a bottoms-up Google Web 2.0 Office. Richard MacManus writes:
So with the best of breed email and word processing services now in Google's upcoming Web Office Suite (it's undeniable now), and the Calendar looking good and ready to launch, that only leaves spreadsheet and presentation tools to come. Om Malik thinks Google Base is the Access killer. Hmmm, interesting times. Game on Microsoft! Office Live in its present form just won't cut it very soon…
Best of breed in this case isn't about hundreds of features (many unused) and enterprise-class capabilities. You could argue that Writely isn't even best of breed--check out iNetWord. But Google is intent on making simple Net tools that perform really fast and can be easily woven into the Google fabric. The fabric, not the invidividual applications, is at the core. Microsoft has its own fabric, but it's born of the desktop. Now Microsoft is weaving the Web into its fabric. Google and Microsoft are on a collision course at the big, fat center of the mass market. The blog swarm will be chronicling, as well as influencing, the outcome of this ritual dance as it plays out...