Sunday April 22, 2007 14:49
Why not Google buy Thinkfree?
Along with the announcement of Eric Schmidt in Web 2.0 Expo, Google has acquired Tonic Systems, a San Francisco and Melbourne-based company that specializes in Java based presentation creation and document conversion. It is not one of web based officeware software such as Writely, Zoho and Zimbra. Tonic has offered free PowerPoint viewer and PPT conversion tool made by Java technology.
There is a few informations about Tonic Systems because Google shut down its homepage after announcement. It seems that Chris Nokleberg is a core member of Tonic system. His blog has explained Tonic’s technology since first product release in Feb. 2005.
There is a similar company. It’s just Thinkfree, a Korean based web office software company. Why does Google choose Tonic Systems rather than Thinkfree? It is almost perfectly compatible with file formats of .ppt, .doc and .xls and only supports them.
Also you may be surprised at similar user interface with Microsoft Office. They have made own Java based swing interfaces looking like windows applications and analyzed office formats by reverse engineering. Basically Thinkfree has tried to be alternative of the officeware market in online. So it was very heavy with a lots of functions not to be suitable in online environments.
But, Tonic Systems made core libraries only to make a document and convert presentation formats. It’s very light-weight to be usable to Google Apps at once. Google already has Google Docs & Spreadsheets to make and edit another file formats except the presentation format. So it seems that they want to get core technologies only to treat presentation formats.
Thinkfree was known based on Silicon Valley, but its stock owner is the HaanSoft, Korean officeware company. Its product has widely used in governmental organizations and educational institutions against Microsoft Office. There were many rumors about a negotiation for acquisition between Google and HaanSoft. But, it seems that Thinkfree chose independently surviving by cooperation with Naver and offline office with Zimbra etc. I’ll keep a watch the walking of two companies. Who was right?