91 thoughts on “Google, Writely In Talks?”

  1. If this does indeed become Google’s approach, I believe that it’s very smart. It’s sort of an end-around into Microsoft’s bread and butter market.

    Google may face some challenges though:

    -The general population is still unaware of all things Web 2.0 and are conditioned to use Microsoft Office; if for no other reason than just habit.

    -Microsoft Office documents are stored on local machines and not on Google’s servers. Convincing the masses that their documents will be safe (especially with all that has been going on lately) may be quite challenging—-Even if it’s FREE!

  2. If you twist your head a bit to look at it from the right direction, Google Pages could quite easilly be a PowerPoint replacement.

    All that’s really lacking is Excel.

  3. Although MS Office and Google Office are comparable, I dont see them as direct competitors. They are borned for different purposes.

  4. Some thoughts about Windows Live and Office Live. MS may have invented and marketed those concepts, but Google is in better position to take the opportunities.

    “One harvests and another reap”

  5. Om,
    I don’t think this is a good idea for google and neither do i think they should would go for it.

    1. AJAX no matter what you say cannot scale up for such apps.
    2. Google has tie up with Sun for open office, it should be pushing for xforms , not a AJAX based writing doc (More here http://amanthan.blogspot.com/2006/03/xforms-extension-for-firefox.html ) Open Document can natively support xForms.
    3. Mozilla is working on Xforms extension (they released 0.4 build recently) and I used it for a few complex forms. In the above link i mention how to use it.

    Lots of other reasons this is not gonna work well, like what is the revenue model ? I don’t want ads next to my sales reports. In case they are doing it, then it must be technology acquisitions for some good engineers.

    Besides handling browser crashes, network failures, offline editing capabilities are critical. So in case they are going to provide an online editor, its critical to provide offline too. This is where open office is needed. You can edit offline and sync online etc.
    I am sorry but writely, numsum etc are technology demonstration projects, they are not usable applications yet !! Look how long its taking Google to get a calendar out of the door ? Complex applications like office will take more effort. We might be looking at years here.

  6. I think it makes a fair bit of sense as Google move towards an office suite. With Writely and it’s business model that’s a little tricky to monetize, it makes sense for them too.

  7. Writely is fine, but I don’t see the benefit for Google to buy rather than build here. (a) Writely is a hyped name among 2.0 bloggers, but most people have no idea who or what they are, so there’s miniscule brand value; (b) both Gmail and Blogger already solve most of the technological hurdles, the biggest exception being MS .doc import/export; (c) does anyone think that Google needs Writely’s networked-application expertise?

    If anything I’d think they’d buy Writely just so that MS and Yahoo! can’t.

  8. In what way can Google Base replace Access?

    Anyway, I think Google needs a better address book before it can practically be Outlook replacement.

  9. Om, great find. But I have a small question?

    “Do you think Google has to pour in a double digit million figure to acquire it instead take some time to build it on their own. Speaking about community, I think Zoho Writer as well as Writely stand on the same dias.”

    I find Writely as just an extension of Blogger edit tool. Adding colors to it would not take more time for a company like Google.

    Thanks for this “rumour”.

  10. I think it’s a smart move, irrespective of whether they buy Writley or not, they gotta get into the Hosted Office software business to take on Microsoft Head on, and play to their strength. For MSFT, this is attacking at their Star Business and give them some of their own medicine.
    If at all, there’s a co. which could compete against MSFT effectively, its Google. I thought it’s just a matter of time, before they announced something on this. The paradigm Shift in the software from Packaged to Hosted, is the future of software.
    Looking at CL2, its quality, intuitiveness, easy to use, Industry Standards, hard to replicate features. they’d do very well in the Office apps. Space.
    Even if they dont take over Writley, they already have word editors in their offering, like someone mentioned, they must’ve something in their stable, to introduce just before Microsoft releases its Office 12.
    Thanks Om, for the coverage.

  11. Why does Google need to compete with Microsoft in the office software space? Why do we take this as given? Does Google need to compete with Adobe in the graphic design space too?

    Why does everyone feel like Google needs to do everything? That’s a sure fire way to lose focus.

    Google outta focus on search and a few related services. And they outta protect their advertising empire cash cow.

  12. Interesting. I’d be kind of surprised if Google didn’t just use OpenOffice.org. If they want something lighter weight then they can easily just, well, put it on a diet, take out some features and icons, etc.

    Of course, as an OpenOffice.org instructor I’m prejudiced. ;>

    The equivalent for PowerPoint is obviously OpenOffice.org Impress which is much easier with this rev and looks much more like PowerPoint.

    I think the “everything online” metaphor is great–it’s true that some people will be scared but people who use Yahoo or GMail would immediately understand. And it would be an incredible benefit for people who travel a lot.

  13. Luistxo wrote that Writely is overhyped among bloggers, but has little brand value – seems conflicting to me. But I digress…
    I have been using Writely for several months now and the effect it has had on how I handle documents is nothing short of a complete transformation. I only use Word now to open files from other people who don’t use tools like Writely, and I immediately copy and paste the contents of the Word file into a Writely file. After editing, I invite the other person to collaborate on my Writely file – this is my way of marketing Writely to others in a grass-roots, “web2.0” way.

    To the Google-Writely question, I love Writely as it is right now, both as a service I use daily, and as something that I see being constantly improved by its authors. I can also imagine that a relationship wth Google could have huge potential benefits, i.e. if they integrate Writely and Gmail so that attached documents in a Gmail message can be opened directly in Writely.

  14. One last thing. The beauty of Office is that all the pieces are integrated and they all look integrated. Piecing together a bunch of small apps from here and there don’t make an office suite. They make a set of different applications.

  15. If Google bought Writely, it would mostly be for the talaneted developers. Even though Google has shown it’s tech-independence with the .net-based Orkut, I would think it would prefer that these apps be on the less costly, infinitely flexible *nix platform.

  16. for spreadsheets you might check out Numbler – and I agree with Andrew’s point that web apps exist for a different purpose. There are lots of customer needs that aren’t met by office software; some based on features, cost, or simplicity of use. A good example are tools from 37signals.

  17. Google can very easily address the offline problem — just run a web server locally, like they do for desktop search. The interface for the client app code would not need to change, and if a request fails from the online server, simply hit the local offline one. The local offline server would then basically “ping” the online one periodically until it was available again, push any changes up, then inform the client app that it should resume communicating with the online server.

    The biggest risk, of course, is you would essentially have writely’s server-side code on your client for the local server. So server source code is on the client. Assuming you use a compiled language, not a big deal — but most websites nowadays are written in some type of scripting language (python/php/ruby/perl/asp) or java/.net. Last I checked, Google was a big python fan, which means then lean towards scripting and dynamic languages. Call me crazy.

  18. Perhaps Google bought Writely not for the word processing UI, but for the underlying components. This might not be a sign of a bid to attack Office at all. There are plenty of things Writely does under the hood that Google could be very interested in. Word processing is just the top layer.

  19. I also beleive that launching their much hyped Office 2007 makes it difficult for them to pallet the derailing of that juggernaut, with a free web office… hence their pathetic recent announcement with Office Live..


  20. good idea or not, these acquisitions are being done for chump change. people sneer at $15 million for writely (guess) but don’t vomit at $3 BILLION for broadcast.com etc. if it even gives google a three month head start, its worth it.

  21. Looks like you were right!

    Taken from http://writely.blogspot.com/ :

    Writely is now part of Google!

    Yes, we’ve been acquired by Google, and we’re really excited about this for many, many reasons. But I can hear you saying, “I don’t care why YOU’RE excited – I want to know how this change will impact ME!”

  22. Was there any time spent thinking when you suggested Google Base as an alternative to MS Access? Seriously?

  23. I don’t think Google will go for the whole ‘Microsoft Replacement’ straight away. I think they will go for the 75% of MS Office users who use their computers for

    1. internet
    2. basic documents
    3. email

    Google is smart, they have seen what obstacles Open Office has come across trying to make inroads into the ‘business sector’ and I think Google will initially stay out of that area due to enormous costs in user training, MS push to get companies to sign agreements etc..

  24. Your diagram is compleatly wrong. How do you even begin to compare MS Access with Google Base, those are such different applications with different purposes.

    Shame on you!

    or whatever.

  25. Is Google just another member of the RBOC group?

    Look at the comments from the google folks about how they want to (re-)centralize control and storage on THEIR server farms.

    If the evil phone companies had proposed this what would the reaction be?

    The internet is about 1000 points of light at the EDGE.

    So is Google is a new generation CENTRALIZER ? or are they an true life internet company?

    My motto is: Power to the people, power to the EDGE.

  26. GoogleBase compared to Access? Hmm. Im not sure.

    I think its too soon to be thinking about doing everything through the browser. Once Web 3.0 settles in and the planet has a secure Wifi blanket… then let the good times roll πŸ™‚

  27. I cannot believe all the google hype. In my opinion, Google is good for 2 things.
    One is search.
    Second one is advertisements.

    Other than the above mentioned items, none of their products are revolutionary.

    Gmail is Quirky. It is very hard to organize. They took a year to put a delete button on the damn thing. You need a million clicks for simple tasks. I cannot apply new filters on old emails.

    Blogger is an insult to the blogging community. There is no advanced features and it is impossible to do small things. There is no categories, for example. It is the 1990s geocities with a nicer template.

    Google Videos – haha (Nelsonesque)

    Base.google.com – big deal. nothing impressive here

    Froogle. I can always find better deals if i search harder than thru froogle.

    Gtalk is OK. No conference call facility. Chat thru gmail browser does not have audio notifications

    Other than search (they are THE BEST) and adsense/adwords, there is nothing impressive. The only big thing they have is a massive IT infrastructure fueled by stock price that lets them have a billion visitors on their website at the same time.

    They can acquire all they want but if they act like an “Ugly Apple” (we will tell you what you want and how to use it. This is how it is supposed to be), it will not work.

    My 50 paise…

  28. Add a numsum like app to the mix that supports OpenOffice.org format spreadsheets and I’m a happy camper.

    This is great news all around.

  29. Erm… I’m not sure why we all think that Google’s trying to compete with Microsoft’s Office… unless it’s some form of vendetta.


  30. This acquisition suggests online word processing is not really a high priority for Google, otherwise they would have started working on it many months ago and be done with their own beta product already, tightly integrated with gmail, blogger, pages, etc. The question for them is always, how will X enable selling ads? It will be years before scanning your online non-email documents translates to better ad targetting and thus more ad revenue, so for now they just fill this gap with an acquisition, and leave their engineers focused on higher priority projects.

  31. I would use it… it may not be seen as more secure than saving locally, but in my eyes it is. You computer crashes, hard drive fails, etc you loose your work and all your saved stuff… while if your computer crashes or hard drive fails, it doesnt matter so much because all the important stuff is stored off site in a secure datacenter. A data centre which is most probably backed up every so often so your files dont go missing πŸ™‚

  32. “One last thing. The beauty of Office is that all the pieces are integrated and they all look integrated. Piecing together a bunch of small apps from here and there don’t make an office suite. They make a set of different applications.”

    What you describe here is actually the same as the origins of just about every Microsoft technology known today. ie. Stage 1. Purchased from another company. Stage 2. Branded by Microsoft and gradually integrated. Step 3. Origins conveniently forgotten. What is the problem with Google following this stategy again?

  33. You guys are not thinking the right way. Almost all Google employees carry a laptop around, well i think some of them are tired of carrying them around just like me.

    This is the age of the internet tablet ( nokia 770 ) is one of the first device to come out. Online office applications is the way to go.

  34. I think its early to compare Microsoft office and Google offerings. MS Office is matured product while Google is just moving in the game. But what is positive for Google is that it can along with OpenOffice can overtake market by making things available both online and offline with GDrive as the storage place. If that happens, I think it will certainly make MS office run for life.


  35. For Powerpoint, you have Eric Meyer’s S5 that can be implemented out of the box. With a little interface to S5, Google has the ability to roll out semantic slides over the web. I guess that completes your loop :).

  36. What a word document is going to become, and what a word document was are very different things. If you have a hard time thinking about it, take an HTML document for example. There are more and less expensive editors out there and new ones cropping up everyday. Why? Because HTML, though it has undergone many changes is an accessible format. What if the word format is going to soon be just as accessible? The business model becomes something different. In the past the format was a constantly changing nightmare. No one had a dominant editor for it besides Microsoft. Everyone seems to judge alternatives to Office by their ability to open and save Word docs. It could all change very rapidly with Microsofts overhaul to the file format. Come on, would anyone consider an online HTML editor to be competition to Adobe Golive? Word has alot of features that may not be feasible to implement online, but simple wordprocessing is not one of them. If you can look XAML in the eye, you might see it is in fact Word documents that you will be editing from Google and you will probably see some adds. Now what feels worse, looking at a few adds or forking over the $$$ to Microsoft for Office?

  37. I still stick with my opinion: the one who owns user’s data will be the winner. Where is the user’s data? Is it on your server or my server? I think the two questions are very import.

    Now, I’m very eager to know what Microsoft will do when they heard this news. πŸ™‚

  38. What is wrong with a little redundancy?

    You can have your Microsoft Office for your local desktop, but if you want to do something in Google Office, you can do that too and have it up and running to compare sales figures on the fly in real time instead of emailing crap back and forth and holding meetings. Why you could even hold virtual conferences if you get everybody in a little chat room with a GUI that allows accepted users to mark up the app over a secure connection. Then if you all want to save a hard copy, you can all do that.

    What’s all the fuss about? It’s just an extra tool! It’s not like you have to let go of MS Office, OpenOffice, Lotus, or whatever desktop tools you are using. As a matter of fact, writely is a great tool for remote teaching. Think virtual classrooms, virtual sales meetings. Now the only thing is… what is the energy consumption on these computers as compared to driving an automobile to work and will people become wasteful and gluttonous by taking every opportunity to go to Starbucks and Panera.

  39. Perhaps Google is trying to again monopolize every possible genre of software available (internet and standard application). But, then again, perhaps that is a good thing, when Microsoft applications usually fail in comparison with Google’s applications.

  40. For Powerpoint, you have Eric Meyer’s S5 that can be implemented out of the box. With a little interface to S5, Google has the ability to roll out semantic slides over the web. I guess that completes your loop :).

  41. Some thoughts about Windows Live and Office Live. MS may have invented and marketed those concepts, but Google is in better position to take the opportunities.

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