I'm at the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this week and there is big news coming from a number of companies who are sponsoring and attending the vent. So far, the biggest rumblings are from Zoho and Google, each of which is planning to announce the next step in their respective office alternatives. Zoho will announce Zoho Office (as reported by TechCrunch yesterday). Google will announce their next step in application consolidation as fellow ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley discusses on her All About Microsoft blog this morning.
In the Office 2.0 community, both announcements are sure to generate a lot of interst and commentary. What remains to be seen is whether the world at large (outside the technology enthusiast space) is actually looking fora web-based counterpart to the tools they already have on their PC or really want a distinct alternative. While both of these companies' offerings are credible options for someone who prefers not to pay the cost of licensing Microsoft Office, is highly mobile, or wishes to engage in some lightweight collaboration on a per-document basis, it's not clear this demographic is a significant portion of the population.
In the panel I'll be moderating tomorrow, we'll be discussing the impact and implications of APIs and Feeds on the Office 2.0 space and how they have the potential to make application functionality and data truly portable and reconfigurable. If end users can configure the information and tools they want as and when they need them, that represents a significant shift from the application-centric model we work in today.