So a survey by NPD shows that only a tiny fraction of people have ever heard of Web-based document management tools such as Google Docs, and an even tinier fraction have ever used them. Does this really surprise anyone? Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch says “RIP, Web 2.0 Office Suite” — but given the title of his blog, that’s hardly surprising either. Presumably, Joe would like us to believe that the Web is no threat to Microsoft, that Live Office will rule the world, and so forth.
Does anyone remember when no one had ever heard of Firefox? I do. It’s still a relatively small proportion of the browsers out there, but it’s growing. Anyone remember when Facebook was virtually unknown outside university campuses? I do. Obviously, Google Docs is no Facebook — but the phenomenon of Web-based document management is not a fad, and I think it’s a little early in the game to be writing obituaries for something that has only been around for a year or so.
So a majority of people have never heard of Google Docs, and are happy to use Microsoft Office for everything. So what? A majority of people still search in vain for the “any” key on their keyboard when installing software. What does that prove? Nothing. Microsoft will likely continue to dominate the office software market, just as it does the OS market — but that’s not where the action is, and not where the future is.