Several people have asked me why I didn't write something about Friday's much-covered news on Google's acquisition of web conferencing software from Sweden's Marratech AB. I have been somewhat amused by the brief flurry of articles that came out on Friday talking about the deal. You can get links to many of the articles on my Webinar Success Industry News page.
Almost all the articles compared Google's acquisition to that of WebEx by Cisco, and many of the authors attempted to build up the acquisition as a direct competitive shot at WebEx. Sorry, but that just doesn't fly.
Firstly, there's not much hard news available on the subject. The entire public statement is limited to a two-paragraph entry on the Google corporate blog. There is no press release and no statement for investors or analysts. So we can assume that this is not a material event affecting Google's business outlook, plans, or financial status.
The limited nature of the deal is highlighted by the phrasing (which the Google blog authors felt they had to clarify in an update to their entry). Google didn't acquire Marratech, they got some of the company's conferencing software. And while Marratech works in the fields of audio, video, and web conferencing, the Google blog says that it acquired "Marratech's videoconferencing software." So it is unclear as to whether the web conferencing piece is even involved.
The Google blog is worded to make it sound like the videoconferencing software was purchased for their employees' own internal use in meeting remotely. There is no mention of public availability of a new Google product offering, nor any announcement of plans in that direction.
And for the people trying to build this up as analogous to the Cisco/WebEx deal, you're simply comparing apples and oranges. WebEx was the market share leader in the field of web-based conferencing. It had massive resources (both technical and human) around the globe. It had widespread public awareness and business penetration fueled by years of massive spending on sales and marketing. It had a wide-ranging set of products covering specific application niches. And it had a strong partner technologybase that made it attractive as a "hook" for further integrations and market expansion. Marratech is not in the same ballpark.
Mind you, this is no condemnation of Marratech's software. I haven't seen it in action at all and I have no opinion about it - positive or negative. They have had some nice reviews in a couple of published software evaluations.
If I had to guess, I'd put my money on Google being shocked and surprised at the attention and reactions they stirred up from their little blog entry. They probably thought of it as a sideline item -- interesting to some techies and to their employees who meet remotely. If Google wants to publish something more substantive about product plans or enterprise software availability I'll be interested to read it. But in the meantime, this little purchase -- whatever it really entails between the two companies -- simply makes me shrug and wish them luck with their collaborative infrastructure.