Surprise: No one’s heard of Google Docs

by Mathew on December 18, 2007 · 6 comments

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.

  • http://www.en-dash.com/blog Jake

    Yep. There are plenty of things that Google Docs isn't great at, but there are also some uses that make desktop clients seem absurd. It's just a matter of time til people are using GD (or something similar) for collaboration on not-for-publishing docs and spreadsheets (and probably presentations, too). And it's a good way to have an always-available shopping list, too.

  • http://www.robbmontgomery.com Robb Montgomery

    I like the Google docs for collaboration and planning. It is a very simple concept that you have to try – instead of attaching a document and emailing it around (Making lots of copies and stuffing your colleague's in boxes) you instead attach people's e-mail to the document.

    It is a new paradigm and will take a while for it to get noticed and adopted to those higher-up the food chain.

    For example I just created my first one a few days ago to organize a series of Digital Journalism Seminars in Chicago.

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=ddz9stgx_2gpf3

    I invited 17 editors and educators to volunteer to help design the program and I could add or drop more at any time and control their editing privileges.

    Previously I would have used my blog, e-mail and a forum thread to do this and it would have taken longer and required more work to track revisions. This is a great tool.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I completely agree, Robb — I've used it the same way myself many
    times. It simplifies the collaboration process enormously.

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  • http://www.tripharbor.com/blog Stuart MacDonald

    Heh. “Any” key.

    Heh.

    ;)

  • http://www.tripharbor.com Stuart MacDonald

    Heh. “Any” key.

    Heh.

    ;)

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