PC Magazine suggests that an "imminent word processing bloodbath" is coming. I respectfully disagree. The bloodbath occurred nearly 20 years ago, when Windows 95 and Office 95 combined to trample WordPerfect PerfectOffice (at the time from Novell) and Lotus SmartSuite (from IBM).
Fast forward to the present and Microsoft Office sales continue to grow. But the real action is out on the cloud, where Google and Microsoft are trading blows while upstarts like Zoho carve out their own market niches.
So where do IBM and channel partners fit into the cloud office suite discussion? Take a close look at the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business (SC4SB) strategy (formerly LotusLive). The platform has numerous channel partners. IBM Docs -- which will include a cloud-based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software -- is part of the SmartCloud effort.
Overall, I think Google Docs will be the widest market play, appealing to everyone from kids and parents to small businesses to colleges and large enterprises. Office 365, meanwhile, is more of a small business play (at least so far) with some large companies like JetBlue jumping in.
As for IBM, the Docs strategy will likely be an add-on to Big Blue's vertical market efforts in banking, education, insurance and more. It's easy to imagine IBM offering IBM Docs with specialized security, storage and compliance features to attract specific vertical market customers.
Still, it's too soon to say exactly how IBM Docs will be positioned. The cloud suite is in beta now and expected to be generally available in late 2012.