Adobe announced today that it has acquired Boston, Mass.-based Virtual Ubiquity, the parent startup behind BuzzWord, a web-based Word processor. Terms were not disclosed, though the startup did raise a venture round so it’s most likely in the double-digit millions. The acquisition brings Adobe into the Web office game (Google Apps, Microsoft Live, Zoho).
BuzzWord is a product I haven’t yet got a chance to try out, but a quick peak at the screenshots and reading from accounts of those who have reveals it’s seems extremely cool, innovative, but currently little-tad-sightly limited to make ‘the switch’ (as is the case from probably every Web office product out there so far.)
The great thing, of course, is that Adobe PM Erik Larson is aware of the problem. As he says, “The current Web 2.0 apps leave a lot to be desired, they do not live up to desktop apps.” How true! This leaves us to think that Adobe will most likely continue to build on BuzzWord, and the product itself being based on Flex carries huge potential for an AIR version to come to the desktop soon. That’s gunning for two targets right there — free, awesome Microsoft Word with a web counter-part, anyone?
For Adobe, which has been in the game ever since the early desktop publishing days, I think the future is right here. They’ve built a strong, supported platform with Flash, they’ve made it cooler with Flex and really gunned multiple markets with AIR, and this is exactly what they’ve been lacking: something like BuzzWord which totally kicks ass and makes their platform 10x better. In the whole desktop office vs. web office debacle, I say the future is Adobe with Flash and AIR, which gives you the power of both and deeply-integrated tie-ins to leverage that power. Hint: Ajax and Java may just be a thing of the past.
Speaking of stuff in the pipeline, another thing I’m looking forward to in addition to Adobe’s (presumably) vamped version BuzzWord is Photoshop Online, which should be making its way to the ‘tubes soon. Adobe has the opportunity of a decade here to port some of the age-old desktop solutions into their cross-platform foundation with Flash, Flex and AIR, and I’d be stupid to think this where they’re stopping.