Google Fights Microsoft for Small Business Users, Acquires DocVerse

DocVerse Activity

DocVerse's activity stream

Looks like Google is determined to remain competitive in the small business CRM market, as today they announced they are closing an acquisition of DocVerse, a service facilitating collaboration around Microsoft Office documents. Given the number of small businesses managing CRM via free online applications, this could be big news.

San Francisco-based DocVerse has previously been called a tool for turning Microsoft Office into Google Docs—once participating parties have downloaded the plug-in, they can share documents with one another and view them on the web. Whether users are online or offline, DocVerse will track, manage and sync changes and merge them into one updated document. Users can talk over changes through an included instant messaging platform. Another neat feature offered by DocVerse: an activity stream that is viewable with MS Office, any web browser, or an RSS stream.

In so many ways, this is Google returning the challenge Microsoft posed earlier this year when they announced Office 2010 would tout Web Apps, an online component allowing document sharing and real-time collaboration functionalities. They decided to make Office more like Google Docs, and now Google is upping the ante by actually taking Office to their own platform. The acquisition is not yet finalized, but it will be interesting to see how this online-documents brawl plays out next year. Plenty of small business users house their information with Google, but there are many who just use the Microsoft Office suite, and might not be swayed toward Google’s Office-friendly collaboration without an added incentive.

Google also recently acquired Appjet, creators of the real-time collaboration tool EtherPad, and that team has since been working with Google Wave, and the source code has been released. Still, it will be interesting to see if they bring Appjet and DocVerse talent together.

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