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June 7, 2006

Early Reviews of Google Spreadsheet are Mixed

Well, the early reviews are in on Google's online spreadsheet application.  And the heart of the matter is that whether Google Spreadsheet is any good depends on expectations.  That is, the impression of the product seems to have more to do with how it's placed competitively with Excel than what it actually does.  Some segments of the press display an anti-Microsoft bias by expressing disappointment that Google Spreadsheet isn't going to destroy Microsoft Office.  The lack of features of a comparable disk-based system puts off some commentators.  The fact is, though, the product is what it is. 

Google undoubtedly will keep working on the application and add features over time.  The company seems less concerned about competing directly with Microsoft than the people who write about it.  Google is not likely to go after for the corporate crowd, at least not yet.  The small business crowd, the sole proprietorship and the individual who needs access to a spreadsheet occasionally are likely targets. 

The online application saves in an xls and csv format, so it could work with Excel when the web is available and Excel isn't.   The practical side of whether an online version of a spreadsheet has as much to do with how convenient it is to use as to what is in the primary feature set.  Maybe a saved online version could be that backup on the web if something funky happens to the local version.  That's not so bad when out of town for a presentation depending on the paranoia level.  And if you're paranoid that your private sensitive data resides on a Google server, we'll that's a factor as well.

Maybe Google Spreadsheet won't kill Office under these circumstances, but it could and likely will drive net traffic to Google.  That's where their business is.  And if it chips away from potential sales of Office, then Microsoft should have to respond competitively.  Nothing wrong with that.  Allegedly, the consumer wins under those circumstances.

In checking out the reviews, here are two excerpts that caught my eye. 

IT Wire:

Heck, word processors and spreadsheets are complex applications. They're hard enough to build for the desktop let alone the online space. Just ask Microsoft or, if you don't believe them, ask the Open Office crowd. Office productivity applications like Word and Excel and their open source competitors are the product of years of iterative development. And still we grumble about how imperfect they are.

ZDNet:

No doubt, over time Google Spreadsheets and the company's evolving Web Office will turn out to be a decent product–there isn't much rocket science left in building a spreadsheets, email or word processors.

Rely on commentary for what it's worth.  Try it out when it goes full public.  If it works for you, great.  And if not, buy Office.  Microsoft won't mind.  Playfuls has a nice description of the features so far available in Google Spreadsheet.

June 7, 2006 | Permalink

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