PBworks, Watchitoo Crave Google Wave's Real-Time Collaboration Hype

Looking to capitalize on the rush of Google Wave excitement, PBworks and Watchitoo Nov. 2 launched real-time collaboration platforms for business users. PBworks' real-time collaboration update lets users conduct instant messaging, live editing of documents and, eventually, voice conferences. PBworks provides asynchronous editing, allowing users to edit a document without others intruding. Watchitoo provides some of the same functionality but with a heavier emphasis on social networking.

Two companies are angling for a chunk of the real-time collaboration market Google has cultivated interest in with Google Wave, the platform that blends instant messaging, file sharing, live editing and social networking.

PBworks and startup Watchitoo Nov. 2 launched real-time collaboration platforms for business users.

The real-time collaboration update to the PBworks platform will enable teams whose workers are spread far and wide to ping colleagues through live instant messaging notifications, rather than requiring them to send an asynchronous e-mail notification.

Users then communicate via instant messaging to edit documents together live in a wiki Web page. This is a break from the classic, scheduled Web conferencing approach enabled by Cisco WebEx and Citrix GoToMeeting applications.

Eventually, users will also be able to click a button in the platform to initiate outbound calls to their colleagues using their existing phone service, marking another break from the traditional practice of setting up a conference call in advance. Users can add new participants at any time, recording each conference call for later review. This feature will also launch from Apple's iPhone.

Like Google Wave, which Google is rolling out slowly to users, PBworks' Real-Time Collaboration Update provides a break from the traditional asynchronous collaboration model, where users edit documents individually in a wiki, hit save, and allow others to come in and work on them.

Unlike Google Wave, where gangs of bouncing cursors rove a Wave session as a result of editing from several users, PBworks lets one worker edit a document at a time, PBworks Vice President Chris Yeh told eWEEK.

For example, whenever a user is editing a workspace page, other users viewing that page see the edits appear in real time, but they can't barge into that page to disrupt the worker's editing process.

In that respect, it's similar to a WebEx editing session, Yeh said, adding that users told PBworks they preferred the single editor approach to preserve the wiki metaphor of page history and revisions.