Google’s acquisition of QuickOffice, a cloud-based productivity suite already present on many mobile devices, could make things a little trickier for Microsoft’s own cloud plans.
QuickOffice products are available for Apple’s iOS, Google Android, and Symbian. Features include integrated access to services such as Dropbox and SugarSync; a multi-edit toolbox for formatting text and other elements (cells, colors, etc.); and compatibility with Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
In a June 5 blog posting announcing the buy, Google engineering director Alan Warren called out QuickOffice’s “established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats” and “strong base of users.” Google will apparently integrate QuickOffice assets into its Google Apps product suite.
Google has been on a bit of a buying spree of late. Earlier this week it snatched up Meebo, a vendor of social-networking tools for consumers and advertisers, with an eye toward strengthening its Google Plus social network as a viable alternative to Facebook.
Google’s Apps, on the other hand, are a direct challenge to Microsoft and its Office productivity software, which has dominated the business market for some time. Microsoft’s Office 365 combines Lync Online, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Office Professional Plus onto a single platform; it remains one of the most visible examples of Microsoft’s “all in” cloud strategy.
Although cloud-based productivity software owns a relatively miniscule portion of the overall market, both Google and Microsoft realize that percentage will only increase in coming years. Accordingly, the two companies have engaged in what could only be described as a pitched battle for enterprise and government customers.
At one point, the rivalry became so fierce that Google eventually sued the federal government, alleging that the Department of the Interior denied its bid for a cloud email and messaging system—a contract that first went to Microsoft’s BPOS-Federal suite, a forerunner of the newly introduced Office 365 for Government (the Department of the Interior eventually agreed to consider Google Apps).
One analyst believes that, with the QuickOffice acquisition, Google is embracing what he calls the App Internet.
“The App Internet is the future of software architecture and the foundation of how people get stuff on their mobile devices (we call that mobile engagement),” Ted Schadler, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a June 5 blog posting. “The App Internet means native (or hybrid HTML5) apps on mobile and desktop devices that use the Internet to get services.”
QuickOffice, he added, has grown thanks to its understanding of the App Internet: “That has led consumers and information workers and sometimes entire enterprises (in the case of one life science company with 15,000 iPads deployed, for example) to use QuickOffice.”
The acquisition could complicate things for Microsoft’s own plans for Office in the mobility and cloud spaces. “It means Google has done another ‘embrace and extend’ play to take keystrokes away from Microsoft Office,” Schadler wrote. “And that ahead of Microsoft’s purported but unannounced plans to port Office to iPad.”
But will Google acquiring QuickOffice change how workers consume cloud-based productivity apps? Schadler believes that enterprise CIOs will find it easier to “go Google” if one of its apps features Office document support.