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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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November 27, 2007 12:00 PM

Broadband Apps Drive Competition

Traditional software delivery models have tended towards near monopolies dominated by major players like Microsoft. Look back even just two years ago and see how much competition Microsoft's Office suite faced and while you may find some competitors, you certainly won't find much marketshare left over after you take Office out of the picture.

But today, through broadband, that competition paradigm is well on its way to shifting dramatically.

The latest news is an announcement by a former Hotmail cofounder on his release of another online competitor (of sorts) to Office - Live-Documents.com.

I say "of sorts" as a big part of Live Documents is its ability to serve as a wrapper around your existing Office software, enabling Office documents to be easily shared and collaborated on online. At the same time, one can see how it wouldn't be an overly large leap for Live Documents to ultimately start pushing itself as an Office-replacement offering.

But Live Documents is far from alone in terms of Internet-based competitors to Office.

Adobe acquired a Flash-based word processor called Buzzword.

Zoho offers everything from an online word processor to spreadsheet and presentation creators and beyond.
includes Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

And these are just the major players. There are also a host of smaller competitors trying to make names for themselves in this space.

While I'm not sure if any of these online Office alternatives have taken a significant amount of marketshare from Microsoft, I can't help but get excited about the possibilities this new competition holds for driving innovation in the document creation space.

And this innovation will be able to more quickly make it into the hands of consumers as hosted applications like these can be updated dynamically on the server side without need for users to download and install service packages of any sort.

True, hosted office apps suffer from the fact that most won't work without access to the Internet, but a new day is dawning for consumers as broadband is enabling the creation of a remarkable new marketplace for the creation and delivery of applications, and I couldn't be more excited!


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