Analysis At ZDNet, it's Microsoft's "Pearl Harbor"! Forbes screams, "Google's office invasion is on!"
Only it isn't - and we have the founder's word for it.
As we reported yesterday, Google has paid an undisclosed sum for a web-based document editor, Writely. It's a product that's as mature as the company which produced it, Upstartle.
Explaining why she decided to sell the company, whose only product has been in a limited, closed beta for just six months, co-founder Claudia Carpenter wrote -
"We like lava lamps and they're pretty much standard decor at Google."
Moving onto the vision thing, Carpenter explained -
"Writely is like a caterpillar that we hope to make into a beautiful butterfly at Google!"
(No blonde jokes, please.)
A measure of how mature the software is can also be gleaned from this blog post. Writely gained the feature "delete from trash" five weeks ago, a lower priority for the team than "new toolbar". When the ability to remove your own work from a hosted web service is considered less important than cosmetics, you have a fair idea of the software designers' values.
So far, so very "Web 2.0".
That's because of the kind of work people are doing now, which co-founder Sam Schillace explained to NPR recently, is -
"Lightweight, high-velocity and very connected."
Or did he mean the people behind it are lightweight, high-velocity and very connected?
To be fair, Schillace is an experienced developer who created what later became Claris Home Page, before going on to lead teams at Intuit and Macromedia. And Schillace correctly denies what the headlines writers want to believe today - that Writely is a replacement for 'fat client' word processors.
But these are bubble days, and it's discordant to hear a rational explanation - but one comes from Joe Wilcox at Jupiter Research. The Writely feature set is so poor, he points out, that Google bought the software solely to beef up its editing facilities in Gmail and Blogger.