Google Wave burst on to the scene as the next hot thing, someone, somewhere was going to beat Google to the punch and release something comparable. That something is Shareflow, a new SaaS play by New York City-based startup Zenbe.
Up until now, Zenbe has been focused on simple productivity tools like a webmail client and collaborative to-do lists, and this is really their most ambitious project to date. Though the folks behind Zenbe deny any claims that they created Shareflow to explicitly imitate Google Wave, not even they can deny the obvious similarities.
Google Wave Knockoff?Despite plenty of accusations, Zenbe's team is vehemently denying any notion that Google Wave was the direct inspiration for Shareflow.
It's honestly hard to say how much of the product was copied directly from Google Wave, conceptually speaking. A great deal of the functionality is equivalent, but they were released quite close together. Zenbe's evidence to the contrary is the video they produced (watch it below) in early March prior to Wave's public launch, and a blog post from April that suggests Shareflow was in private beta previously.
How it WorksWhether or not Shareflow is simply an imitator is really beside the point. What matters is that it's available here and now, and it works.
Shareflow is a granular version of a flow-based collaboration; you can either view all flows or just single projects. In terms of content, it handles threaded comments, files of most types can be uploaded and previewed through Scribd's iPaper interface, there's Google Maps integration, images, and video. Like other Zenbe products, email integration is also a big component of Shareflow.
Part of the reason this doesn't look like an imitator is that the two major features that Shareflow doesn't really do very well are real-time document collaboration and chat, both of which are key parts of Wave.
Not A Wave-killerIt's doubtful Shareflow will be the game-changing tool that everyone has predicted Google Wave will be, and that's only natural, considering Zenbe isn't Google. Even if it was, the fact that Shareflow is proprietary means it will never get near the crazy level of adoption and interest that Wave will.
But open source or not, if you're desperate to start working in a manner that is similar to Wave, Shareflow might just scratch your itch until the big day arrives.