One of the job requirements of a high-tech company product manager is to make life harder for their public relations people. The latest and greatest example was the meeting hosted by Google and the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce in Michigan last Thursday.
There, Google product manager and former JotSpot product development guru Scott Johnston whetted the appetites of those in attendance by telling them the JotSpot assets are being tucked into Google Apps as something called Google Sites, an extension of Page Creator.
Johnston also told everyone that, yes, Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations will work offline next year.
These juicy details, relayed here by Andrew Miller, comes just two weeks after Google spokespeople refused to discuss the alleged Google Wiki. Shortly after, rumors floated that the Wiki project is dead.
Apparently, and despite numerous sightings of a Google Wiki logo, the word "wiki" didn't enter Johnston's presentation about Sites, but the description about the software sounds a lot like the wiki technologies JotSpot offered as a standalone company.
I'm inclined to believe Sites will include a wiki. Google Wiki, as a standalone product, or as an early euphemism for what we now know as Sites, may well be defunct nomenclature. The point is, why call it Google Wiki, when Sites will apparently encompass a lot more with regard to online collaboration?
Yesterday, a Google spokesperson said that Googlers will sometimes speak without clearing it with the PR team (thank God for that!) and told me Johnston was surprised about the coverage in the blogosphere about his Sites talk.
Apparently, he gives this presentation all of the time. That must be on the other planet Earth; we've never heard so much detail about the JotSpot assets.
Miller also said people in attendance asked a lot of pointed questions, which is probably why Johnston talked it up.
The Google spokesperson added that Johnston's presentation was based on hypothetical scenarios of how Google might integrate JotSpot technologies into Google Apps, but should not be taken to mean that that is how it will look when it's released.
For good measure I asked point blank if Sites would include a wiki. The spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a wiki for Google Apps. But she didn't need to. We kinda know what's coming at this point.