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 Thumbstacks.com and be done with it.

With the acquisition of Writely.com, 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 Writely.com 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.

Update:

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 Writely.com 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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