There is a new online office suite, this time from India. Sabeer Bhatia, with Live Documents, wants to use the office space for his next successful venture. But does it offer anything unique? Otherwise it is going to be stomped by the existing giants.
Matt Assay is not very hopeful about it. He thinks the future is in doing away with document creation, and focusing on collaboration and distribution. And he might well be right! Currently the online office space seems to be at a cul-de-sac.
But I think there is one feature that Live Documents offers that others do not – integration with an offline office suite. I think an online office suite should complement the offline one, not replace it. The bad part of it is that it seems to be made for and only for Microsoft Office. So much so that it seems to be a sub-brand of Microsoft. It looks like Sabeer Bhatia wants to ease Microsoft’s future effort to rebrand it after it is bought! Jokes apart, the intention might be to show a tighter bond with Microsoft Office, but it looks more like a rip-off. Nicolas Carr sees an additional aspect, that it has a potential to trouble the Redmond giant by wooing the Indian user base.
I am disappointed that it is so made for Microsoft Office, I am interested in trying it out. I want to try out the integration, and maybe the other players can integrate with OpenOffice. Also, Matt Assay might be right about the future. Online office documents should focus more on collaboration and distribution, creation can be left to the desktops.