Google Spreadsheet — so what?

by Mathew on June 6, 2006 · 13 comments

So Google has a spreadsheet app (and yes, it’s called Google Spreadsheets — really creative name there, guys). Now let’s start the countdown to the presentation app (called Google Presentation, no doubt): here it comes in 10, 9, 8… oh, why not just buy and be done with it.

With the acquisition of, the launch of Google Calendar, and now the spreadsheet, the search behemoth with the $130-billion market cap has put together many of the same pieces as the Microsoft Office suite, which more than one person has noted makes up about 25 per cent of the software company’s revenue (it used to be about 40 per cent) and an even larger chunk of its profit as well.

The only question that remains unanswered is, so what? Don’t get me wrong — I think is a great app, and the mesh gang used it religiously when collaborating on the schedule for the conference. But you can’t export as a Word document, which means that no one is going to be able to use it as a business app (ThinkFree Office makes more sense for that).

Google Calendar is great too, and nicely integrated with Gmail, but I don’t see businesses standardizing on either one of them. So why is Google bothering — just to show that it can muscle in on markets too, as Paul Kedrosky says? Or is it just jumping on its horse and riding madly off in all directions, as Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock put it?

One thing is for sure, it’s not a great day to be JotSpot, NumSum or iRows — although they had to see this coming a mile down the road (or should have). And maybe Google Spreadsheet will have enough going for it, as Richard MacManus describes here, that it will become something more than a kind of half-assed Web version of Excel. Let’s hope so.


I’ve spent enough time on this blog telling Nick Carr when he’s wrong (which is quite often), I thought I should be fair and acknowledge when he’s right too, and his post on Google’s Spreadsheets is pretty right (as I admitted in a comment on his blog). Google’s new feature is not an Excel killer, no matter how much some people would like it to be, nor is a Word killer. They are both extenders, in that they add features to those existing products. Embrace and extend — anyone heard that one before?

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  • Jeremy Wright

    “that it will become something more than a kind of half-assed Web version of Excel. Let’s hope so.”

    … So we’re hoping Google changes tactics this late in the game?

    I was a huge Google fan in the beginning, but each new product shows less vision, less leadership and less quality than the last. Too bad too, because they have just about the smartest group of people on the planet working for them.

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  • Segu

    Meanwhile, why dont you take some time to access , an online spreadsheet application .

    Including all the major features, it has recently added,

    Multiple Sheets
    Almost all fomula’s
    Sharing, Tagging and Collaboration

    Cheers, :-)

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Segu. I’ve tried Zoho and been quite impressed. Does Google launching a spreadsheet trouble you at all?


  • Steve Guttman

    It’s NOT? a great time to be JotSpot, NumSum or iRows? Well–it probably IS a great time to be one of them, as Yahoo doesn’t have an online spreadsheet yet.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Not a bad point, Steve.

  • Peter Cranstone


    Great minds think alike – I have to laugh, you and I wrote a blog with exactly the same title, “Google Spreadsheet – So What?” I uploaded at 7:28, yours was at 8:40 – amazing – indentical reactions – so what?

    Keep up the good work.

    All the best,


  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks for the comment, Peter — I have a feeling that we’re probably
    not the only ones who feel that way :-)

    And thanks for mod-gzip too. Just read your bio.

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  • Tony

    Hi! Have you seen EditGrid also?

    There’s a comparison between it and google spreadsheet here:

    You may wish to take a look!

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Tony — yes I have taken a look at EditGrid, and I was quite impressed.

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