Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Death of the download?

Interesting post from the Zoho folk about their decision to cease design of their downloadable products.

While mostly known for their hosted applications, Zoho also offered their Virtual Office product and CRM products as downloadable software you could run on your own server. They’ve now canned both those offerings and they also revealed that the delay to their Zoho Mail product was due to the related issue of making the decision to optimise it as a web service.

I’d never really considered that you architect software intrinsically different if you are building it specifically to run as a hosted app. I kind of just figured that it was simply a matter of not wanting to administer the server. So that was a bit of an eye-opener in itself. But more interestin, perhaps, is the direction.

Recently I spoke on an podcast which also featured  tlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brooks. He said that Atlassian they did have a hosted offering, most companies preferred to license the downloadable offering to install behind their own firewall. Experience with Wyaworks indicated much the same thing. When it comes to internal knowledge, most businesses still like the ability to run everything on their own server behind their own security systems rather than sticking everything in the cloud.

So it strikes me as a massive issue that Zoho has found developing its platforms as both a web service and a downloadable offering is simply not worth the effort, when its probably turning its back on the main revenue-generating business model. Is it really seeing that big a shift away from the software download? Or is there a more sophisticated business-model answer?

While I’m on Zoho they recently unveiled their new Start page. The lack of this kind of interface was one of the reasons I ended up switching to the Google App suite. There’s nothing earth shattering to the release but it’s definitely an important part of the suite puzzle. I found myself wondering if it was worth revisiting my decision and putting Zoho through its paces in again. Then I started to think about the pain of such a move and quickly realised I’m probably more locked in to Google Apps then I was ever locked into Microsoft’s Office suite because I can’t access my documents using any other application and shifting them all to another service would be a nightmare. Something to think about before you make the leap to relying on an online office suite like I have.

BTW, Zoho is doing a great job with its TechMeme sponsored posts. It’s a fabulous marketing vehicle when done right.

Filed under: Zoho

Google Docs ties with your domain

If you have a Google Apps for your Domain account, you can now log into Google Docs and Spreadsheets using your Google-managed user names.

We’ve had our domain hosted with Google now for a few months, but I’ve held off moving away from my gmail user account because I like the single sign-in factor I have with that. The big obstacle for me was not being able to log in to Docs and Spreadsheets with my MediaConnect username as I spend a bunch of time in that app every day as it has become my primary word processor these days.

However, last weekend I thought I might try logging into D&S with my mediaconnect login and it worked no problems at all, although its still not linked to in top left-hand corner of my email.

I wonder why that is? I hope it’s because Google has something bigger planned that simple integration of D&S and GAFYD (and Google can we please get some nicer names for these two apps).

I’m absolutely dying for Google to integrate Jotspot into all this. I have very much come to the conclusion that is the app that brings all this stuff together for SMEs.

My frustation at the moment, is that Zoho has pretty much done this with its recent ZohoWiki, which does tie together its spreadsheet and docs, and furthermore they tie it together further via their Virtual Office product. About six months ago, I came to the conclusion I had to back one horse on this front and chose the Google path, one because of their size and two because I’m so in love with GMail. When they release Google Calendar and Apps for your Domain I was feeling pretty good about that decision, but right now when we’re looking to really built out a corporate intranet faciltiy I’m dying for that Wiki piece of the puzzle to drop into place.

But I do have much faith in the Jotspot team. I think what they were creating with Jotspot was stunning and I have every faith that they can produce something special now they’re in the Googleplex.

P.S. Would Yahoo or even MS hurry up and buy Zoho. These big Internet heavyweights should look at Zoho and be shamed and red-faced as to the suite of web tools they’ve produced compared to what Zoho has pumped out. Unfortunately, I think for all their brilliance Zoho really needs a popular mail client to make everything come together on a personal productivity basis.

Filed under: Google, Online Applications, Online Spreadsheets, Online Wordprocessing, Web 2.0, Zoho

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