Google's Web Office bid, we mustn't forget that a few small Web Office vendors have been in this space longer than Google and have built up a loyal and strong user base. One such company is ThinkFree, which I've profiled before on ZDNet. Today ThinkFree announced they'd reached 250,000 registered users. These users are made up of small and medium business owners and their staffs, university professors, teachers, entrepreneurs, parents, bloggers and students.While this week's poll is about
What's more, ThinkFree users come from more than 200 countries, including Mauritania, Anguilla, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. The greatest number of users come from five regions: the United States, South Korea, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Here are some monthly statistics released by ThinkFree:
- Accounts for 228,000 unique page views
- Stores over 654,000 files totaling 189 GB of data
- Accounts for just under 100,000 unique visitors, of which over half stay longer than 10 minutes and roughly one quarter return day after day
- Shares 2,000 documents
- Uploads or creates 60,000-80,000 new files
While 25k pales into comparison with Microsoft Office registered users (which would run into the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions - anyone have an actual figure for this?), it demonstrates that small Web Office vendors like ThinkFree and Zoho can run a successful 'niche' business by taking a small slice of the total office software user base. Zoho recently noted this in a blog post, saying that "our business plan is not based on us beating Microsoft or Google, it is based on serving customers well enough to earn a profitable share of the market."
ThinkFree markets its office suite as the one with best Microsoft Office compatibility - and I presume they include Google Apps in that assessment. It is also mainly a Java-based solution, rather than Ajax which Zoho and Google predominantly use. ThinkFree Online includes three applications – ThinkFree Write for word processing, ThinkFree Calc for spreadsheet management and ThinkFree Show for creating presentations. It offers 1GB of free file storage as part of its service. In May last year I interviewed ThinkFree CEO TJ Kang. At that stage TJ made a special point of noting ThinkFree's MS compatibility:
"ThinkFree prides itself on having more functionality than the other Web Office players, but TJ told me it isn’t a case of features for features sake. Rather, ThinkFree’s main reason for having so much functionality is to be compatible with Microsoft Office. He said if they didn’t have that level of compatibility, then MS Office users "wouldn’t make the move". One of ThinkFree’s goals is to ween MS Office users off the desktop and onto the Web."
And indeed I concluded that the primary benefit of ThinkFree was its close compatibility to Microsoft Office functionality - with the web-based functionality, such as collaboration, that it offers on top of that being the differentiator to MS.