iZoho – Zoho for iPhone

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…or should I say ‘Office for your iPhone‘. This is fun project going live in record time (thanks to our APIs and of course our team).
iZoho (no, its not an online desktop :)) is an easier way to access your Zoho Apps on your Mobile…atleast, iPhone for now. Sure, you can use Zoho Apps in their current form on your iPhone, but there is lot of stuff you don’t need on your mobile phone. So we simplified the interface and just provided simple features you’d normally use on a mobile phone.

We have three applications available currently in iZoho – Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show which lets you view your documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Zoho. Currently you can view and edit your documents, but you cannot edit your spreadsheets and presentations (you can only view them). You can also create new documents and view your presentations in landscape mode. There will be more features coming as we move along.
Frankly, we don’t know how this will work on iPhone as we haven’t tested it. It certainly works well on Safari so we hope it’ll be a non-issue. In any case, we will be fine tuning this over the next few days.

As I mentioned earlier, a device with a big screen, built in Wi-Fi, good usability and a full fledged browser will only improve the chances of practically using web apps on a mobile device.
Do give it a try and let us know what you think (support at zoho.com). Below are some screenshots.

home.jpg docs.jpg writer.jpg

Moore’s Law on Companies

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IBM was the dominant company of the mainframe era – and at the peak of their influence they had around 200K employees. The dominant company of the PC era is Microsoft, and they had around 40K employees at the peak of their influence and power. Google is the dominant company of the emerging internet era, at around 10K employees. It is easy to see a kind of Moore’s Law operating here: the dominant company in each technology generation is a fraction of the size of the dominant company of the previous generation.  Timescales are shrinking too. IBM reigned supreme for decades, Microsoft for about a decade. Powered by technology itself, economies of scale are becoming available at smaller and smaller scales.

SteekR integrates Zoho

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SteekR, an online storage vendor integrated Zoho Writer into their application in their recent update. With this integration SteekR users can edit documents using Zoho Writer and save them back into their SteekR Drive.

SteekR offers a free account with 1GB storage space. I like their upload feature where you can just drag and drop your files into the browser and they are uploaded directly without having to install anything. Also, if you have any photos or audio files uploaded, you can play them directly in your browser. They have a great application and we are glad to see Zoho integrated into it.

Other online storage vendors who integrated Zoho APIs include Box.net, FileDen, MyDataBus & OmniDrive. We’d like to thank you all once again for integrating Zoho Apps and we look forward for more such integrations.

World may be Flat, but It is Also Really Small

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I found out something surprising a few days ago: I was in the same hostel (Godavari) at IIT Madras as Rajesh Jha and Suri Raman, who lead Microsoft Office Live and Srikanth Shoroff, a senior manager at Office Live. Jha is the Corporate VP in charge of Office Live, while Raman is a Microsoft Technical Fellow, an exalted super-guru status at Microsoft. All of them were one year ahead of me at IIT, and we shared the same hostel for 3 years. I remember playing tennis ball cricket with them, which I consider to be much more fun than the infernal “real” cricket ball. Those used to be pretty hard-fought affairs, and alas, I also recall losing more often to them than winning, a circumstance I would conveniently blame on my less talented teammates. Jha and Raman graduated in 1988, and Raman joined Microsoft right out of IIT – interestingly the first time Microsoft recruited directly in India. Jha and Srikanth went to grad school and joined Microsoft two years later. From what I gather, 10 out of 30 of that 1988 graduating Computer Science class is in Microsoft now.

Another member of their class is Venky Harinarayan, who co-founded Junglee (acquired by Amazon) and now the founder of Kosmix, an innovative search engine start-up in silicon valley. I remember Venky was often the reason their team would win the cricket matches. Thanks, Venky, for connecting me with Jha, Raman and Srikanth.

I myself was in the Electrical Engineering class graduating in 1989, and I never thought I had any interest or passion for software. In IIT, I avoided computers after the initial obligatory Intro to Computing (Fortran!), taught in 1985 when I entered. I pretty much didn’t think of software at all until 1995. Even then it was not love-at-first-sight for software and me. It must be the Fortran …

Anyhow, it was great to reconnect with these folks. I don’t remember much of what I studied in IIT (that’s a lie, I don’t remember anything), but I remember the people, I remember the cricket, and I also remember some other things which won’t fit in a family-friendly blog (psst, my father reads my posts) so I will leave them out! And here is a piece of advice to those still in college: really get to know your fellow students, you never know who you will find as competitors 19 years later in life ;-) Make damn sure to enjoy all that time you are wasting – one of my favorite quotes is “If you enjoyed the time you wasted, you didn’t waste it after all.” And whatever you do, seriously avoid Fortran – I mean seriously.

Zoho Writer now in Japanese

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Japanese users of Zoho Writer are in for a treat. Thanks to our Japanese colleagues who are putting in a lot of effort in translating the Zoho services’ UI screens, Zoho Writer now joins Zoho Sheet in providing a Japanese UI. In your Zoho Writer account, click on ‘Options’ -> ‘Settings’ and you will find the language option there.

Soon we will be adding other language UIs to Zoho Writer (and other Zoho services) as well.

Zoho Projects : Cool Overviews

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Came across a couple of nice overviews on Zoho Projects. Chris Kasten at Solo Technology is a long-time Zoho fan. He is looking for a project management solution for his company and has started evaluating Zoho Projects first. From his illustrated pictorial overview :

I have a project, I suppose I should have some tasks associated with it. Here it gets more interesting… There’s a variety of ways this tool can be used to manage a project. For the moment, I’ve decided that I’d layout milestones, and then for each milestone I’d define tasks. In my example, I added one task list per milestone (”readiness” tasks) but you could actually have many task lists per milestone — or one or more tasklists not associated with a milestone.

Did I mention this is all “Ajaxy” and fluid? You can see (above) that I’ve defining a task without jumping to interim pages. It’s all live an “in place”.

Tasks can easily be re-ordered and edited.

There’s tons more here. Meetings scheduling, messaging, project reports, forums and who knows what else I missed. I like that the company logo can be added. I’ve not looked at the other candidates yet, but this definitely seems like it’d fit the bill for what we’re after. Performance is good, key features all seem to be there.

Brett & Randy at Circle Six Design blog are happy customers of Zoho Projects and like it very much. From their excellent blog post titled “Project Management with Zoho

Zoho provides Gantt charts, calendars and timers. It also has file sharing and storage, with the space determined by your payment plan. By the way, Zoho is 100% free for open source projects. You can put tasks on a timeline, along with meetings and major milestones, and then see them in different formats.

There are more features that I didn’t touch here, mostly because I haven’t gotten to exploring every nook and cranny yet. But overall, I’m very impressed, and for most purposes, Zoho is very affordable. If you’re looking at project management solutions, be sure to add this to your list to check out.

Thanks for the nice overviews Chris, Brett & Randy :-)

Zoho “challenging the software world”?

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Dan Farber at ZDNet has a great post up Zoho sets out to challenge the software world – thanks a lot, Dan, for outing our secret plan for world domination (yeah, right!) I am going to have to pay for that title with my wife – she mercilessly punctures any delusions of grandeur I could harbor in a moment of weakness.

A couple of clarifications are in order: AdventNet, the parent company of Zoho, has an IT management software suite, very imaginatively named ManageEngine, which has been downloaded several million times, installed in over 700K sites, and since we have a generous free edition, the paying customer base is a lot smaller. In that respect, the AdventNet business model is much like that of any open source company. Lots and lots of free users (we love them!) and a subset of them become paying customers (we love them even more!). That philosophy keeps our customer acquisition costs low, so we can focus on doing what we really enjoy doing: build cool software, and lots of it. Indeed, one look at the AdventNet site will tell you how every product comes with a Free Edition.

As for quantity vs quality, it is true we ship a lot of products (over 70 if you count all AdventNet offerings, I have actually lost count!), but each of our product teams has a very strong mandate on quality. We would much rather withdraw a product offering than compromise quality. And we don’t start a product, unless we can dedicate meaningful engineering resources to it.

I bring these up, because that is pretty much the same philosophy we follow at Zoho. We want to have a very generous Free Edition, and then convert a subset of those to paying customers. Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects, both of which are commercially available, have a sizable pool of free users, from which a subset have become paying customers. We are going to follow the same policy with all our Zoho services.

Now, the big question: can Zoho survive against Google and Microsoft? Somehow I just don’t spend much time worrying about it (OK, may be just a little!). I reckon, based on our own 11 year history, if we keep shipping cool products, and treat the customer well, we will find a market. AdventNet has reinvented itself more than once in its history – Zoho is just the latest in a series of transformations, from a humble beginning with a single product 11 years ago (as an aside, anyone would like to take a guess what that first product was?) And surprisingly enough, we still ship that product, and have a strong base of loyal customers.

On the future of Zoho, there is only one assurance I can give: we will keep trying harder to offer the very best in online applications. We have a very passionate engineering team here and we love to come to work everyday.

Thank you again, Dan!