Just as most small or medium sized businesses can’t actually do business without a computer on every desk, business can’t really be done if those computers aren’t running a word processing program or spreadsheets. A decade ago there was actually competition in the space, but Microsoft Office pretty much dominates it now – but in the last few years Word and Excel have seen the cloud-based products from Google offering a serious challenge.
This week Google unveiled some of the most recent improvements to the Google Docs products, which has the promise of faster service and even real-time collaboration tools. These new enhancements also meant that Google Docs will have offline compatibility with Microsoft Word and Excel. Users can now have more control in how the documents are rendered and formatted, instead of requiring a browser to deal with the compatibility. This means that for a user a document can be virtually the same when being used locally on the computer’s desktop or when running it from the cloud. More importantly, Google Docs will allow for real-time editing with other users, so multiple parties can see the character-by-character real-time editing of documents and spreadsheets. This can help ensure that if something is in a “crunch” mode that one person doesn’t accidentally “save” over a version essentially undoing someone else’s work.
But this shouldn’t mean that Microsoft is out for the count either. The Redmond software king is also in the stages of releasing its own online office-productivity services later this year. This would include online versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint as part of Office 2010. The suite will arrive for business users next month, and for consumers in June. Clearly the inclusion of online functionality shows that Microsoft has its head in the cloud as well.
Could Android Really Overtake Apple?
This week Tim Bajarin of PC Magazine asked the question, “Can Android Overtake the iPhone,” and he makes some excellent points, noting that the Google Android OS is moving beyond the mobile phone to other devices. As I’ve noted over the past year, Apple and Google aren’t as cozy as the two companies had once been. The corporate “friendship” has been strained, and now the two are close to becoming bitter rivals.
It seems unlikely – at least on the surface – that Google’s Android could possibly overtake Apple’s iPhone. But Apple has always seen its biggest rival as Microsoft, and meanwhile Android has been doing its small invasion. It started with a simple landing with the T-Mobile G1 and now is a full frontal assault, with handsets for all the major carriers. Google’s Android also offers something that the iPhone still doesn’t offer, and that’s choice. It has advanced feature phones, smartphones and soon push-to-talk handsets.
But 2010 could be when the war really heats up. AT&T’s exclusivity with the iPhone is set to expire, and with other carriers – at least Verizon – getting the iPhone, the tables could be turned. However, there is another factor that many people might not be noticing. Apple seems not to follow through with marketing support for existing products as much.