Google Developing Online Spreadsheet

By Nathan Weinberg

Expanding on its Writely purchase of this past March, Google is releasing a web-based spreadsheet program, giving a clear sign that it plans to develop an online office suite to compete with Microsoft Office. The program sounds very similar to what Writely offers, with simultaneous editing, in-document chat, automatic saving, which suggests it may be an extension of the Writely “platform”.

Ars asks:

It is not known at this time whether Google is planning to purchase one of the existing web-based spreadsheet applications such as EditGrid or iRows, or whether the company plans to release their own version from scratch. Given Google’s history, it seems that the former option is probably the most likely. Although these applications are fairly simple to create—the company that created Writely had only four employees at the time of the Google purchase—it is still easier and faster to purchase an existing solution rather than rolling one’s own.

Ars is ignoring the obvious: Who ever said Writely was only developing a word processor? Perhaps Google found out Writely was also developing a spreadsheet and other office software, and realized that it could purchase the whole kit and kaboodle. Is it so hard to believe that Writely, which wanted someone to purchase them, had already started work on this spreadsheet, which made it too tempting for Google to pass up?

According to Elinor Mills, Google Spreadsheet will support the importing of XLS and CSV files, just like Writely. It requires a Google Account, and I’d say it is a safe bet that it will be another Google product that will close down due to heavy interest, so register early (sometime between 12 am and 4 am Eastern, tonight).

While Google could very well dominate the web-based Office space, and could easily become the number two to Microsoft Office, it is highly unlikely they will ever overtake Office. Excel is a hugely important piece of software for businesses, and no multi-million dollar corporation is going to run their payroll off a web-based solution. Google may very well steal the considerably smaller home user market from Microsoft Office, but businesses likely require far more.

June 5, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

One Response to “Google Developing Online Spreadsheet”

  1. Don Dodge Says:

    Google is directly competing with open source projects like OpenOffice and Sun’s free StarOffice.

    Google acquired Writely (word processing) and now has a spreadsheet. There was speculation last year that Google would partner with Sun to offer a version of StarOffice. Instead Google has decided to go its own way and compete with OpenOffice and StarOffice.

    C/Net says “Google spreadsheets turns up heat on Excel” I don’t think so. Microsoft Office is a powerful, industrial strength, client based, information worker productivity platform. Microsoft Office is moving beyond just being a collection of applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to being a server based application platform for ISVs. Lots of companies run their business on Excel spreadsheets. Now creative start-ups are using Office as a front end User Interface to a whole variety of business applications.

    I wrote a blog on this subject today

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