As expected, Google showed off its presentation feature for Google Docs beta at TechCrunch 40. "The key to Google Docs is the collaboration...that is the Web 2.0," said Jennifer Mazzon, product manger for Google Docs. That is what sets Google Apps, as well as Zoho, Think Free and other products with presenations apart from the incumbent Microsoft PowerPoint. They are built from the ground up to be collaborative--no SharePoint required.
That said, all of the cloud-based application makers are working on offline capabilities. "We have no announcement today, but users have been telling us for the four hours a month they are offline, they want access to their stuff," Mazzon said. Google developed Google Gears for adding offline capabilities.
Presentations can be edited collaboratively in real time, shared, and published using the Google Docs interface. Users can follow along as a presenter goes through a slideshow, and they can chat connected via Google Talk. The presentation "feature" is available in 25 languages.
It's clear that Google didn't want to present the presentation capabilities as a separate application. As fellow ZDNet blogger Garett Rogers wrote: "It baffles me that they decided to launch this product without support for any of the most common features in most presentation software."
Mazzon was asked about data security for Google Apps. "We are all very concerned about security and have a lot of investments in the Google Apps system to make it secure. We can build a really great system but individuals need to step up and change their passwords." That isn't a very comforting answer, but Google and all of its competitors need to give enterprises more evidence that their clouds can protect vital corporate data.
TechCrunch 40 co-host Mike Arrington asked Mazzon about Yahoo's acquistion of Zimbra. She diplomatically answered, "The Internet is a big place. There are a lot of users in the world and competition makes everyone better."