Adobe buys Virtual Ubiquity, maker of Buzzword word processor

Adobe has acquired Virtual Ubiquity, the maker of Buzzword, an online word processor that offers features like those of desktop competitor like Microsoft Word. (Announcement here.)

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Adobe had previously invested in Boston-based Virtual Ubiquity, in an effort to promote startups make use of its Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR, suite of software. AIR lets developers build applications that combine the connectivity of online applications with the “rich” features associated with desktop applications.

For example, Buzzword offers true what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) document formatting. You can view, edit then print a document from the web without affecting its formatting. If you’re using Google Docs and most other online word processors, text will appear in different places across web browsers and computer screens, which leads to confusion about how final drafts will appear in print.

Buzzword, like other AIR applications, works both on and offline. Online, it lets you share a document with other people so they can edit with you.

It is one of the more hyped AIR applications that we’ve heard about, although it is still only available in private beta.

We’ve been impressed by some of the functionality but wondered about its viability against competitors like Google, that are busy integrating applications such as Gmail, Calendar, and Google Docs — we’ve found this integration to be more compelling than the RIA experience.

Read our Buzzword review in July for more details (here). As we said then,

While Buzzword may be a great stand-alone product, we think it will need more than support from its investor and technological benefactor, Adobe, if it is going to challenge the Google juggernaut.

In other email software news, another AIR application is launching called Pronto. Its software integrates email with a calendar, photo and video sharing, and other services. The company is targeting businesses and internet service providers, hoping to duplicate the success of Zimbra, another email provider that gained traction with such customers — and was bought by Yahoo for $350 million a couple weeks ago. Pronto is owned by Communigate.

In yet more email software news, GigaOm reports hosting provider Rackspace has bought Webmail.us, an email hosting service.

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