When thinking about Google's deal-making, I'm reminded of Winston Churchill's description of Russia as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." While Google
The funny thing is that back in April, Google purchased another player in the space, Tonic. That firm develops the underlying engine allowing collaboration of presentations.
As for Zenter, its technology adds the visual pizzazz. The system allows for sharing of presentations and integration with digital media sites, and has a rich catalog of graphics. It represents the last component in making Google Docs into a full suite that also includes mail, calendar, spreadsheets and docs.
"Google has an opportunity to attack Microsoft in two markets," says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Wellesley, Mass.-based Nucleus Research. As she told me recently, "First, there are the leagues of casual Office application users that don't want anything more than what Google offers and don't see the return on investment from the Microsoft Office price tag. Second, there are those who have been frustrated in trying to share, version, or collaborate on traditional spreadsheets, Word documents, or presentations."
While this sounds great, I still think there are challenges. If you look back to when Microsoft created Office, there were lots of quirks to work out. It took several iterations for the system to become truly useful. This is the case for all top software companies, like Adobe
I suspect it will be the same for Google. But with the company's huge cash hoard, big user footprint, and super-smart programmers, there should eventually be a quality offering and a worthy alternative to Microsoft Office.