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Zoho Announces Multimedia Notebook at DEMO

(Updated)

The Zoho folks will be announcing yet another product at DEMO – this time it’s a multimedia NoteBook. Since whenever they release a product, the Microsoft / Office analogy is quite unavoidable, let’s just get it out of the way: this is Zoho’s “OneNote” – and a lot more. (Bias alert: I am an Advisor to Zoho).

Notebook is an online application to create, aggregate, share, collaborate on just about any type of content easily – all in one place, without having to switch applications. You can create multiple books and within that multiple pages. There are a number of page-types to begin with, including Sheet, Writer, Calendar, Contacts, Planner, Task – these correspond to Zoho applications – or simply start with a blank page.

You can easily create any type of content within a page: text, image, drawings, audio, video – these could be embedded youtube videos or record from your own camera / microphone directly into Notebook. Place your content anywhere in the page by freely dragging it around, resizing, reshaping it. Aggregate content from multiple sources: embed Show, Sheet data, web pages, RSS feeds, file attachments. IE and FireFox plugins allow easy clipping of web-content.

If it’s Zoho, it has to be collaborative; but this time NoteBook brings real-time online collaboration to a new level: you can share book-level, page-level or individual object-level information. This means you can selectively collaborate with certain users on your text, while sharing the chart with yet another group, and hiding the rest. Updates to any of these objects are reflected in the NoteBook real-time. Integration with Skype allows Skype presence indicators in the individual shared object as well as direct IM-ing over Skype. Needless to say, version-control is taken care of at the object-level, too.

Now, for the bad part: NoteBook is currently in limited Alpha mode … so hang on for a while ..

fingerscrossed and in the meantime, enjoy this demo video:

NoteBook is unquestionably the sleekest of all Zoho apps, and a technological marvel. There are clearly specific target demographics, like students, where an All-In-One notetaker is the killer app. In a more typical business environment one might wonder where it fits in the range of products available, and what application to use when. Update (1/31): Dennis lists much better use-cases:

“I can see huge potential for this among those professionals who need to assemble audit and M&A resources for example. It makes the creation of a multi-disciplinary team very easy with the ongoing ability to collaborate as projects evolve while remaining in an organised, controllable environment.

I can see other use cases arising in forensic work, planning, budget management, time and expense management – the list goes on. In this sense, Zoho Notebook could become the de facto desktop for knowledge workers because you don’t need to leave the service to do pretty much all the tasks you’d expect a knowledge worker to undertake. I can also envisage some interesting mashups using accounting data from a saas player that gets pulled into Notebook on and ad hoc basis. Does this mean Notebook is a ’silver bullet’ application.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say a qualified ‘yes.”

About a month ago, while reviewing then new Zoho Wiki I expressed my hope to see tighter integration to the Zoho Suite – specifically Writer, Sheet and Show. Well, now it’s here, albeit in a separate application. Ideally I’d like to see the wiki equipped with Notebook’s powerful editing /collaboration options – or is it the other way around? If you take NoteBook, and allow linking between pages/books … well, that’s quite close to a wiki.

smile_wink. Update (1/31): In the same post I’ve just referred to, Dennis says: “Zoli Erdos has an interesting take on whether the collaboration features put Notebook in the same class as a wiki.”

Let me clarify my point: I’m not comparing NoteBook to Wiki as it stands now. What I do believe is that the feature sets of the two should be merged somehow. Combine the “digital dumping ground” as Dennis says, i.e. the absolute flexibility of creating/aggregating any type of info with the linking, back-linking, navigation, search in the wiki, and you have a truly killer business app.

Zoho has a tradition of initially developing products individually, but share the code-base early, and integrate them later. What do you think? Should Wiki and NoteBook be merged to create the super-product, or is there a need/ market for them to be independent in the long run?

Update (1/30): See related posts on TechCrunch, Read/Write Web , Zoho Blog , Scobleizer, /Message, CMS Wire, InformationWeek, PC World.

Update (2/1) : Robert Scoble’s summary: ““cool” has different meanings: 1) That it’ll change how you work. Zoho’s Notebook wins here.

Update (2/2): The video of Zoho Notebook’s launch at DEMO is now up here.

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Comments

  1. Zoho are proving an amazing powerhouse in the SAAS space for SME and enterprise workers. Their product innovation cycle is blistering and I’m looking forward to trying this one out. I particularly like the idea of the skype integration given how much time I spend communicating with others via skype.

  2. Announcing Zoho Notebook

    I have a good news and a bad news today. The good news is, we are announcing Zoho Notebook, our latest addition to Zoho Suite. The bad news is, you’ll not be able to play with it right away .
    Zoho Notebook is an interesting application that is s…

  3. Anonymous says:

    This looks a lot like Vyew.com. Same colors too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Zoho web apps look great.

    I think that I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for personal stuff.

    The wiki and project planner is something that I’d like to use for my team at work, but from what I see, for many of the Zoho apps, data goes in, but it doesn’t look very easy to get back out, other than maybe screen-scraping?

    Zoho is cool today, but things change so quickly. Zoho may not be leading the pack next year. How would we migrate the wiki data, or the project data, or any of this other data?

    Does the Zoho API at least try to address this?

    We would need to keep an active Zoho account around if we need to archive data if we migrated away from Zoho to a newer system.

    SaaS sounds good, but it seems like it will lead to even tighter Vendor lock-in issues than we experience today.

  5. Anonymous says:

    George, I think you’ve made a point that’s valid for ANY vendor, even mighty Google: to deal with the trust issue they will have to provide a reliable way to migrate/ download customer data for a very long time.

  6. Zoho Notebook gets a tremendous welcome

    The announcement of the Private Alpha of Zoho Notebook during the DEMO ‘07 had a high impact among bloggers and journalists alike. Here’s some choicest quotes from around the net :
    Harry McCracken at PC World :
    One of the most impressive th…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great multimedia software – reviews tutorials, solutions: http://www.gromkov.com/help.html – multimedia software.

    Multimedia Solutions

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