Microsoft PowerPoint has two new competitors.
On Monday, Google plans to launch its online presentation application, referred to internally as Presently, and TransMedia, the startup behind the Glide media sharing and storage service, said it will introduce its improved recipe for online presentations in the form of Glide Presenter 2.0.
In the near term, Microsoft PowerPoint isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's arguable that the presentation apps from Google and TransMedia only add to PowerPoint's value since it's all about collaboration.
Google Docs: Google's new presentation software completes Google Office, were the company to refer thus to its online productivity apps. In fact, the suite, previously referred to as Google Docs & Spreadsheets, is now called simply Google Docs. It consists of an online word processing application, an online spreadsheet application and, now, an online presentation application.
"Our policy is launch early and launch often and get the product into consumers' hands," said Google product manager Kenneth Norton.
At the Web 2.0 Expo in April, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google Docs would soon offer a presentation tool. After months of internal testing, Google's employees are satisfied that the company's presentation software is ready, said Norton.
That's not to say it's complete. As with its other applications, Google intends to add additional features, like customization for mobile screens and the ability to integrate files stored on remote servers. But what's available now is impressive.
Google's presentation software makes no pretense to challenge PowerPoint feature for feature, even if it will import PowerPoint files. Rather it has been designed to help groups collaborate.
"The friction we're trying to reduce isn't on the desktop side," said Norton. "It's when the document starts to involve other people."
Toward that end, Google has made inviting people to view a presentation and making the presentation exceedingly easy. Its presentation software is integrated with Gmail and Google Calendar, and it includes a group chat function based on Google Talk (but without the component that broadcasts presence information).
Google's approach to presentations is uniquely democratic. The software allows any group member to follow the presenter or to become the presenter with a single click. This obviously limits its use to groups of friends or non-hostile coworkers.
Microsoft, Google, TransMedia, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Google Docs & Spreadsheets