In order to boost its Wave product, Google has acquired AppJet, which makes the EtherPad real-time workgroup collaboration application.
"AppJet is a team of highly-talented entrepreneurs with deep expertise in real-time web collaboration. Google and AppJet have a shared vision of how web collaboration can benefit users, and we're excited to have the AppJet team contribute to the success of Google Wave," a Google spokesman said via e-mail on Friday.
The AppJet team will join the group developing Wave, an ambitious hosted collaboration application Google unveiled in May and that is still in limited availability by invitation only.
Wave boldly consolidates e-mail, instant messaging and document sharing, and is considered a potential game-changer both in the consumer online services market and in the enterprise collaboration space.
EtherPad, described by AppJet as a "Web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time," will keep operating until the end of March 2010, at which point all existing hosted accounts will be deleted, AppJet said on Friday in its official blog.
Existing users are already complaining about these plans in comments to the AppJet blog posting. "This is the worst news ever. Google Wave is NOT an alternative to EtherPad. The clean design and, above all, the task specificity of EtherPad makes it vastly superior. I've been using Google Wave for over a month now and it just doesn't compare to the months of wonderful service and growth from EtherPad. Boo," wrote one disenchanted EtherPad user.
Users of the EtherPad "professional" edition will be able to export their "pads" as a ZIP file archive. This edition used to cost US$8 per user per month, but became free on Friday. Users of the starter edition, which has been free since the beginning, can export their "pads" to various formats. Both the starter and "professional" editions are hosted by AppJet.
The company also provides a Private Network Edition, which can be downloaded to customer servers and run on-premise for $99 per user. Users of that edition will be able to continue using the product beyond March. AppJet will honor existing support and maintenance contracts, but will not renew them when they expire.
As of today, people won't be able to create any new free public "pads" nor any new EtherPad accounts.