There’s no need for further speculation: Today at the Web 2.0 Expo Google CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed (here also) that Google will soon launch a PowerPoint clone, completing their basic office suite (they already have Word and Excel covered). Expect these services to be combines with Gmail, Google Calendar, GTalk and other services under a single brand for small businesses.
Schmidt also said that they’re office suite isn’t a threat to Microsoft. That, of course, is complete spin.
What Schmidt didn’t say is whether Google will build or buy this. They acquired Writely, and (mostly) built their spreadsheet application. The smart money is saying this is a build, not a buy.
Update: Google has also announced the acquisition of Tonic Systems to power the presentations product. So much for the smart money being on a build, not a buy, and so much for concerns about yet one more disparate platform to integrate into Docs & Spreadsheets. Launch is planned for this summer.
Update: More information from a reader:
In November 2006, I saw this product being used in meetings at Google…It’s been in development for quite some time now, although it was still very bare-bones then. It sounds like their recent acquisition of Tonic was made for some essential technology component (probably “Download as PowerPoint” or something) — Tonic won’t be in charge of building the core product- that one should mainly be ready and in testing now.