Adobe's SaaSy new Acrobat.com

It's IT Blogwatch: in which Adobe launches new online office collaboration... thingies. Not to mention the threat nuclear war posed to the British national drink...

Eric Lai reports:

Adobe Systems Inc.'s Acrobat software ... is getting a Web 2.0 makeover, as the graphics software maker prepares to challenge Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. in the online office arena ... Adobe is launching a public beta of an upcoming hosted collaboration service called Acrobat.com. Components include a Web-based word processor named Buzzword, which Adobe acquired last fall; the company claims that it produces more-polished-looking documents than other online word processors, such as Google Docs. Also part of the Acrobat.com service are ConnectNow, a lower-end version of the Acrobat Connect Web conferencing service that Adobe debuted along with Acrobat 8 two years ago, and a 5GB online file repository from which users can share documents with other Buzzword users while maintaining some degree of access control. more
Erick Schonfeld adds:
Adobe’s Webtop arsenal already includes the recently launched online version of PhotoShop and its online media player, Adobe TV. Acrobat.com is another big step towards bringing more desktop-like experiences to the Web ... PDF documents made with Acrobat 9 also support collaboration among multiple authors and reviewers over the Internet, making them connected documents. Best of all, they no longer take forever to load. The next step is for Adobe to make it easy to turn any PDF into a Web page, and vice versa. more
Kevin C. Tofel loves it:
Big news today out of Adobe with their Acrobat.com launch. It's a suite of online tools based around Adobe Flash & Flex ... As a daily user of Google Docs, I immediately hit up Buzzword, the word processor. I came away very impressed right off the bat as I tried to import a .docx file created in Microsoft Word that I can't import on Google Docs. It worked perfectly and I was able to view and edit as if I were in Word. The export support looks fantastic as well ... The more I play with Buzzword, the more impressed I get. Although not feature-rich, it seems to have all of the features I need: word count at the bottom right, spellcheck, history timeline, ability to add comments, a "synchronator" button to take control and save edits while collaborating and more ... The days of bulky client apps are slowly coming to a close and the browser essentially IS the operating system ... within 5 to 7 years, more consumers will use web applications than client apps. That works out pretty nicely with all of the efficient, but adequately powered mobile devices and platforms arriving on the scene right now, no? more
Adobe's Erik Larson bids us welcome:
We are incredibly excited about the path we've started down with today's beta launch of Acrobat.com. Our goal for the next few years is big but simple: we want to change the way the world works together on documents, for the better ... Acrobat.com is a suite of online services hosted by Adobe that you can use to create documents together and share them with others. It helps people get document work done faster, without email attachments or version confusion, and it makes your documents look great so that you and your work look great, too ... Delivering software as a service online is an ideal way to improve collaboration. With services delivered online, people and their content are no longer isolated from each other, and can be connected with their colleagues and their audiences in real time. When your high-value content resides online, you no longer need to push out copies of it to other people. Instead, you just invite your intended audience to share the single copy of your content, so there is no confusion about where to find it, and no version collision. more
Nobody expects Duncan Riley:
The wordprocessor is gorgeous visually, and the PDF converter handy, but it’s Adobe’s ConnectNow service that could be the biggest market disrupter here ... [It's] a cross platform web conferencing solution that is easy to access and simple to use. Built (I presume) using Adobe’s AIR platform, it’s functional, good looking, and has a kick-ass range of features including support for webcams/ video conferencing, chat, VOIP + landline support (you get a call-in number if you want one), all this on top of the desktop sharing. Best of all is the price: free with support for a max of 3 meeting participants. There is also a paid Pro version that supports up to 1500 people. I had a quick play with it and the most impressive thing: it just worked on my Mac, unlike a good portion of WebEx’s offering which only works on a PC (and I’ve been caught not being able to get on conferences before because of this). more
Eric Rice agrees:
I just went to Acrobat.com and played with Adobe's online office suite. Holy cr*p. That ConnectNow is the greatest thing I've ever seen. more
But Amit Agarwal isn't quite so inspired:
[I've] found certain limitations that are difficult to ignore ... The PDF conversion engine of acrobat.com allows you to convert only up to 5 documents into PDF ... you cannot upload audio or video files including Adobe’s own Flash video format ... uploading files via email is currently not possible ... managing [5GB of] files can get extremely tough because everything gets stored at one place - you can’t tag documents or arrange them in folders ... There’s no search feature ... you can read Office documents in the browser itself but the problem is that it renders everything in Flash. You therefore cannot copy-paste text or images from the documents ... the content will remain inaccessible on most mobile phone that cannot understand Flash (like my BlackBerry) ... It is not possible to export all documents out of Acrobat.com in one go. more
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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