As Google and Microsoft make lots of noise about online productivity software with Google Apps and Office Live, respectively, Zoho has quietly wowed legions of fans with its online word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications.
Zoho earned a reputation for innovation by adding online/offline functionality to some of its apps using Google Gears. That trick, in fact, makes Zoho "the most formidable competitor to Google's own Google Apps suite," according to PC World.
But what really makes Zoho special, opines InfoWorld blogger Ephraim Schwartz, is the fact that it also offers a suite of back-end business applications, including Zoho Meeting for Web conferencing, Zoho Project for project management, Zoho DB and Report for online databases and reporting, Zoho CRM, and the newly introduced Zoho People for HR services.
Zoho's approach "may show that cloud computing is finally moving to a more integrated approach," writes Schwartz.
Zoho People is geared toward companies of 50-plus employees, those "that cannot afford PeopleSoft, but cannot manage their business on Excel spreadsheets anymore," writes Erick Schonfeld on TechCrunch, who like Schwartz appears impressed with Zoho's long-term vision. He sees Zoho as a competitor to Salesforce.com and Workday.
ZDNet's Larry Dignan speculates that Zoho would make a logical acquisition for Google, as Zoho People and several of its other apps would be fine additions to Google Apps. Dignan notes that pricing for Zoho People is expected to be about $50 a month for admins and $50 a year for other users.
For lots of other details on Zoho People, including a video, see this post on the Zoho Blogs.