As the first major application platform to aggressively exploit the possibilities of peer-to-peer networking, Groove, the collaborative software from Ray Ozzie's Groove Networks, is a potentially revolutionary technology.
Unlike existing collaborative products,
Ozzie's unveiling of the new product might be likened to the launch of a three-stage rocket. Like a space shot in the early 1960s, it's a high-risk, high-payoff proposition.
Stage One reveals the product, which Ozzie says will combine the best features of peer-to-peer and client/server technology in an open environment that exploits Microsoft's .Net. The critical aspect of Stage One--needed to get the rocket off the launch pad--is to get a wide range of software companies to integrate Groove into their products.
Stage Two, which Gartner predicts will occur in six to nine months, will drive the product into the public consciousness. That will involve a major wave of public relations activity from Groove and its newly acquired partners to push the product, more to consumers than to corporations.
Toward that end, Gartner predicts the Groove technology will likely be made freely available to most consumers, with Groove itself depending on value-added services to generate the bulk of its revenue.
Stage Three will be to capture the hearts and minds of corporate buyers. By this point, Groove hopes to have a compelling mix of the right software companies supporting the product, high interest among sophisticated users, and the kinds of management and support tools that enterprise buyers will demand.
As with a rocket launch, momentum is everything. To differentiate the new technology from already available and already paid-for collaboration, email and instant messenger services, Groove must convince a wide-enough range of third-party companies to include Groove technology in their products, thus allowing Groove to capitalize on the value-added side of the market.
All in all, Groove has a far greater likelihood of achieving significant success than the typical start-up. Groove not only has strong financial backing, it reflects the intersection of several major trends: peer-to-peer technology, a range of third-party partners working with Groove toward a common goal, sharp (open) developers and an executive team with the right track record.
(For related commentary on messaging and collaboration solutions, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)
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