When Microsoft was under fire from anti-trust warriors in this country and Europe, Bill Gates continually complained that the company needed the freedom to innovate. If any word was his mantra, it was that one: Innovate.
The mantra hasn't seemed to be working too well.
That "I word" came to mind today when the news wires were afire with word that Google has purchased privately-held JotSpot, a site that permits users to create their own wikis, either free or paid, with premium users getting more bells and whistles. More than 300,000 people use the free service. (See some of the web news about the deal here.)
If you don't know wikis, you will. They started out as electronic whiteboards that allowed users to share content over the internet, contributing their own words or changing what already is there. JotSpot advanced the wiki, allowing users to post and change photos, spreadsheets, etc.
Wikis are perfect for business teams dealing with projects that involve many employees and facets.
As usual, Microsoft is not unfamiliar with wikis and it seems to have fooled around with some wiki-type products in its Office environment. Not that most businesses have ever heard of Microsoft's offerings in this field.
No, once again it has been the small and independent creators of new, innovative products that have captured the early-adapters and now reap the financial rewards for their creators(although no details of the JotSpot deal were made public).
The Jotspot web site today carried a notice saying it has closed new account activity until the content is moved to Google, but it does have a FAQ list about the deal.
With its thousands of employees and billions of dollars in cash reserve, Microsoft has been in a good position to head off the Googles of the world. But the news today casts doubt on the company's ability to remain in the driver's seat in the Web 2.0 world.