Online Office App Pileup!
Well I guess there’s a battle for the next generation Office Suite. Google opened a crack in the armor of Microsoft’s monopoly cow, it’s office suite and now everyone wants a piece of that proverbial pie. Google’s piling more and more in there with a word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, mail and now even presentation applications. Microsoft has responded to this threat with the odd, but understandable Microsoft Office Live Workspace (catchy name!). And, inexplicably, Adobe has thrown it’s hat into the ring with it’s purchase of Buzzword.
Google’s offerings are compelling because they have enough features to be useful to a lot of people, they are ubiquitous (as long as you have net access and a reasonable browser), they are free and they make sharing documents very, very easy. Microsoft has come into this market purely as a defensive move. They’re office suite monopoly is a sacred cow to them and they are fighting, for the first time in a long time, a battle to preserve it. It isn’t in any danger at this instant, but the writing is on the wall, people are looking at alternatives and there are some reasonable ones.
Initially it seems odd for them to come out with an online service that requires you to already have Office. It seems to fly in the face of what an online service is. But you have to understand, for them to come out with a real online application suite would actually be competing with their own office suite. Now, if they’re Apple, they have no problem cannibalizing their own products with better ones. Better to keep the consumers in the family. But, they aren’t, they are deathly and irrationally afraid of anything that might touch their Office money. That includes actions competitors might take and actions they themselves might take.
So if you’re Microsoft you have to view this problem as one where the Office suite itself needs to be the competitor, not some new product. So you’re kinda hamstrung there, but hey, it’s bringing in zillions of dollars every year so you know, I guess they do have something to be worried about. So, for them the main advantage of Google’s offerings are the sharing and the ubiquity. They come at that with their own spin that gives them some of that while at the same time preserving the sanctity of their desktop clients and in fact making it a sales pitch to sell even more. You can share them and people can read and comment them online, but hey, wouldn’t it be great for them to be able to edit it and get in on the fun? Buy a copy of office!
Realistically at this point, everyone still buys Microsoft Office and most every desktop has it. So, they’re adding many of the benefits of Google Docs and hopefully keeping folks from migrating off their platform. They may not, necessarily add any consumers with this but what they’re trying to do is defend themselves from anyone defecting to Google’s platform. Like I said, it’s a defensive move.
Ultimately, it won’t work. If Google is going to be successful, this move isn’t going to change anything. It may prolong the inevitable, but if people want a true online platform and Microsoft isn’t working on one (which they may well be) then this stop gap measure just won’t save them.
As for Adobe, it’s the classic, we’re competing, we’re competing syndrome. They’re losing their focus on their core competency by focusing on competing with their perceived competitors. Why would anyone look for an office app from Adobe? Especially when it’s just a word processor? This is just stupid and we can all wait for it to hoepfully die before it’s birth. Then Adobe can get back to working it’s core strengths.