Desperately seeking JotSpot

By , IDG News Service |  Software

Google Inc.'s continued silence about JotSpot has diminished this lauded wiki product's market visibility and risks alienating existing customers at a time when interest in wikis from corporate IT buyers has hit an all-time high, analysts, users and developers warn.

Soon after Google acquired JotSpot in October, it closed new signups for the hosted wiki service and went mum about its plans. Seven months later, JotSpot customers and developers crave information about JotSpot plans and grapple with various degrees of availability and performance problems.

Meanwhile, JotSpot competitors like Socialtext aggressively market their wares as interest rises among chief information officers about wikis, which are Web sites that multiple users can edit and that have become popular workplace collaboration tools.

Joe Kraus, JotSpot's co-founder, wants everyone to know that his team is working hard to integrate JotSpot's systems into the Google infrastructure.

"I'm as eager as any of our users are," said Kraus, now a Google product management director for collaboration applications. "At a personal level, I'm an entrepreneur. I'm impatient by nature. I feel an absolute sense of urgency."

The decision to close signups and remain silent on JotSpot's future was made so that Kraus and his team could focus on migrating the hosted wiki service over to Google, he said.

"You can't successfully divide your attention between porting your software [to Google] and supporting an inflow of new customers," he said. "It was the right decision to make, although we love the product and we wanted people to continue to use it."

Still, he declined to say when Google will announce its JotSpot intentions and reopen it for new customers. It is widely assumed that JotSpot will become part of Google Apps, the hosted suite of communication and collaboration applications for organizations that includes e-mail, instant messaging, calendaring, word processing, spreadsheet software and will soon offer a presentations tool.

In the meantime, rival Socialtext is wasting no time attempting to capitalize on JotSpot's sabbatical, running the following text ad in Google's search engine for wiki-related queries: "JotSpot off the mark? Sign-up for a risk-free, 30-day trial of Socialtext's business wiki -- www.socialtext.com."

Maybe Google is finding it harder than expected to integrate JotSpot into its infrastructure, Forrester Research Inc. analyst Oliver Young said. Whatever it is, the timing is unfortunate. "The wiki market is more alive than it's ever been. JotSpot and Google are definitely missing an opportunity right now," Young said.

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