One of the major competitors to Google in the online office applications race is a gutsy young Indian company call Zoho. Despite Google Apps fervor, Zoho was able to develop one of the most vibrant and functional office and business suites available.
Zoho offers a wide range of applications. From databases to human resource management, Zoho has it all. Not only that, the apps are created in such a user-friendly and meticulous manner, that it's sometimes hard to believe that they are web-based. Take their Writer (a clone of Microsoft Office) for example. Much of the functionality that you would find in Microsoft Word ™ is resident in Zoho Writer – as opposed to Google Docs where you are left to work with a very watered down word processor akin to Microsoft Wordpad. Don't get me wrong, I am a Google Apps user, but no matter how you spin it, Google Docs needs some improving. All in all, there are about 22 apps available – most of which are free in some respect.
The major drawback of Zoho (and this is going to sound strange) is that it isn't Google Apps. The establishment of the Google Apps Marketplace was the nail in the coffin of any hope of Zoho becoming the cloud-based office application monopoly. If you want to integrate your business with a whole host of third-party applications (i.e. Freshbooks, Tungle, and so on), you'd be better off being a Google Apps customer.
On the other hand. The Zoho corporation isn't stupid. They've integrated a couple of their products with Google apps, knowing that they'd have a better chance of making money by offering their services in the Google Apps Marketplace, rather than trying to be the next Google Apps. This is good news for Google apps users, and Zoho fans alike.
This is hardly a detailed review of everything Zoho, I know. But, although they are not the big dogs in the cloud, they have some pretty awesome office applications. That being said, if you are serious about getting started with a good suite of apps, I start by giving Zoho Projects a try! It's a great entry-level project management system with Google Apps integration, and of course integrates with Zoho's other services.
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