Having already established somewhat pale, web-based clones of Microsoft's ubiquitous Office products, including a word processor and spreadsheet application, Google is now set to complete the triumvirate with the addition of a PowerPoint-like offering.
Despite the dubious claims of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the company is certainly targeting Microsoft Office, if in a sparkly new Enterprise 2.0 manner.Since the inception of Google's online office suite, there has been speculation that a presentation application would be included.
In February, the rumor mill went into overdrive when TechCrunch posted part of a header file from an existing Google application that mentioned a presentation application. The speculation came to end on Tuesday when Google announced on the Official Google Blog that presentations were being added to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family.
Although Google has yet to release the official name of the PowerPoint clone, multiple sources are calling the application: "Presently". This name is a play on the original name of Google's word processor clone, Writely, and is reinforced by it's inclusion and later hasty removal from the header file posted on TechCrunch.
As part of this announcement, Google also announced the acquisition of San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia based Tonic Systems. According to Tonic's website (quote):
TonicPoint Builder is a library that provides a 100% Java API to read, create and manipulate PowerPoint presentations. Use the Builder to generate new slides, populate presentation templates or extract data from existing presentations. The Builder supports the standard PowerPoint file format that is used by PowerPoint 97, 2000, XP, 2003, etc.
Perhaps in an effort to assuage speculation that Google simply acquired the most attractive web-based PowerPoint clone on the market, TechCrunch posted information from a reader and alleged Google insider that a web-based presentation application has been in use within Google since November and that Tonic was acquired in order to support import/export of PowerPoint presentations.
How does this announcement tie into our most darling of content management topics? Well, let's say its not so much the content as the management.
At the Web 2.0 Expo going on in San Francisco this week CEO of Google CEO Eric Schmidt had this to say on Tuesday:
We have concluded that collaboration is the killer app for how communities work.
The addition of a presentation application to the Google office suite both removes a barrier to entry that would have blocked wide-spread adoption in presentation hungry departments, and furthers the company's vision of the future of teamwork and the meaning of Web 2.0.
As per usual with Google Apps, there will be limitations when compared to the desktop version of Microsoft PowerPoint. The new tool provide users with the ability to create, import, export, collaborate, and version PowerPoint presentations. All these functions are simpler than what you're used to, but then perhaps simpler is the best way forward.
To quote Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, "What's the simplest thing that could possibly work?"
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