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Google Office continued: spreadsheet app launched


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#1 Ruud

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 12:52 PM

Email, note taking, calendaring, word processing (Writely) and now spreadsheet. Google Office doesn't launch, it simply evolves, arrives, arises.

Internet search engine Google has released a web-based spreadsheet application, on a limited test basis.

The Google spreadsheet is initially targeted at small work teams in social life or small business, not big enterprises, he said.

Google said the program is designed to help people organise their own information and make it more easily accessible to others through the web.


Instead of going fully portal this idea of building tools people use often seems like a good one. It sure goes beyond what has "always" been offered by others.

But although I obviously use a lot of online tools, the idea still doesn't sit well with me. Maybe within the Internet world I'm already old-fashioned. I like having my data sit on my hard disk. And I like working with desktop applications - applications which are mine.

Remember the paper-less office? I think the MS Office-less office is pretty much like that :)

#2 BillSlawski

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 02:13 PM

I've received an email back, and a link to go to use the spreadsheet.

Just haven't had time today to get there yet to try it out.

I had a little project/blog post from last night that I'm almost finished with, which requires a spreadsheet, so I'm going to finish that up using Google's tool, and see how it goes, and write about both.

I guess a lot of these projects are evolving over the course of 20 % time at Google, rather than as part of a concerted effort or plan to build an office suite. I agree about the desire to host my own data.

#3 dgeary9

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 03:17 PM

Ooooh, could someone please send me an invite?? I'd love to test it, and happy to report back.

#4 Nadir

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 03:46 PM

Ooooh, could someone please send me an invite?? I'd love to test it, and happy to report back.


You can sign up here: http://www.google.co...eets/tour1.html

#5 bwelford

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 04:15 PM

Thanks, Nadir. Currently (17:14 EST) I guess too many people have signed up so they're going to send me an e-mail when it's next available. :D

#6 whitemark

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 10:22 PM

Try the link I posted at - http://www.cre8asite...showtopic=37471 ...

#7 JohnMu

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 02:00 AM

Well I got my email within 3 hours :)

Could it be telling that they haven't run out of room yet? :)

#8 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 03:13 AM

I guess a lot of these projects are evolving over the course of 20 % time at Google, rather than as part of a concerted effort or plan to build an office suite.


So, you really believe the stories about people at Google getting to take a day off a week to pursue personal projects? You think they're writing an office suite in their free time? Bill, you're such a nice guy! Say, are you in the market for real estate? I own some prime acreage in west Texas I just know you'd love to have ...

But seriously, no offense intended ...

Don't fall for the Google hype. It's wearing off fast here in the Valley. They have programmers locked in labs, pounding away at those AJAX routines night and day. Google has cafeterias, workout facilities, on-campus laundry. They keep 'em locked up and high on Jolt cola and BBQ Fritos. Some of them have not seen their families in six months. They are the masters of marketing and mystique. But friends who work there say there's a huge gulf between the persona the company promotes and the reality. The phrase "sweat shop" comes up a lot. Even those who love it say it's the expectations of management are fierce.

With their huge stock valuation, they have money, and they're spending it fast and furious trying to diversify their revenue streams and move into new markets. They have only a fixed amount of time to prove they are worth their market cap. If they don't, they can come crashing down to earth pretty hard.

Why is it taking so long? Well, actually, it really hasn't been all that long. And writing an office suite, even a spreadsheet in isolation, is not that easy a task. Heck, just designing the transaction model for a web-based program of this scope has to be daunting.

I wish them luck. Smart company. Interesting products. But boy, don't believe that they are anything but sharks with the scent of blood in their nostrils and a hunger to be the biggest fish in the ocean.

#9 Ruud

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 03:35 AM

One wonders why, like they did with Writely, they simply didn't buy one.

I'm not glued in enough with the way things are in the Valley there but if this many smart programmers are devoted that much time to ideas than we don't see enough of them.

Of course the whole Google Office thing is a joke, right? It's new, it's funny but I seriously don't see anyone ditching MS Office for Gee ... Office.

#10 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 11:18 AM

I think you're right to be skeptical.

But turn around, walk in the other direction for a mile or two, turn back, and take a longer view. Google is looking to create the next sea change in software development: internet-hosted applications and services. They aren't trying to go head to head in the traditional software business. They are trying to create a new category. They haven't bought anything because there's no much like what they want for sale. (I'll resist the temptation to do anything more than point out that this is just another permutation of the old client/server, thin-client/fat-client battle that ebbs and flow over the decadeds.) Microsoft is also putting their Office online, and it will be an interesting contest. But sometimes the smart money is on the newcomer, who doesn't have to drag legacy customers and code into the new paradigm (sorry for the buzzword).

When your stock price is so delicate, the last thing you want to do is raise investor's expectations by making a lot of noise about this new product line. So they will show some bits here and there and shrug casually about what it all means. They don't want to set expectations around a revenue stream that will surely disappoint at the outset. They certainly don't want analysts in investor conference calls asking questions about revenue expectations. This is a delicate balancing act, trying to seed the market and get some feedback while trying to make it look like it's some sort of private skunk works project they are knocking off in their spare time.

But Google's future is on the line. They have a window in which to prove they can sustain their valuation, and you can bet they are not engaging in any casual projects. Sure, there is undoubtedly some general R&D and goofing around going on. But I think if you crack the lid and peer in you'll see some very serious and dedicated focus going on around this project. If they can invent this category, there's huge potential.

#11 BillSlawski

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 01:48 AM

So, you really believe the stories about people at Google getting to take a day off a week to pursue personal projects? You think they're writing an office suite in their free time? Bill, you're such a nice guy! Say, are you in the market for real estate? I own some prime acreage in west Texas I just know you'd love to have ...


I hear that west Texas is lovely this time of year. :)

But Google's future is on the line. They have a window in which to prove they can sustain their valuation, and you can bet they are not engaging in any casual projects. Sure, there is undoubtedly some general R&D and goofing around going on. But I think if you crack the lid and peer in you'll see some very serious and dedicated focus going on around this project. If they can invent this category, there's huge potential.


And they are cautiously taking it step by step. I think that the yearly financial statements, listing their perceived risks spells this out really well. The perception that some of these steps are casual projects, and innovations are as important to them as anything else. An innovator takes risks. I listened to the Goldman Sachs webcast on May 25th, and Eric Schmidt made some interesting statements there. Here's a paraphrase of one of them:

Google was founded on being seen as the innovator. We want to innovate faster than anyone else, and will not go into a market were we donít have an innovative edge.


I'm not sure that I see a spreadsheet as something innovative. Even one which is internet based, and can be shared with others, and worked upon in a collaborative manner. It seemed to generate a lot of buzz, but I still haven't brought myself to try it out, even after signing up within a few hours of it being offered, and receiving a URL to use it.

Now, give me a chance to tie together parts of that spreadsheet with the Google search API, and I might get more excited.

#12 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 02:15 AM

I'm not sure that I see a spreadsheet as something innovative. Even one which is internet based, and can be shared with others, and worked upon in a collaborative manner. It seemed to generate a lot of buzz, but I still haven't brought myself to try it out, even after signing up within a few hours of it being offered, and receiving a URL to use it.

Now, give me a chance to tie together parts of that spreadsheet with the Google search API, and I might get more excited.


For individuals, I can see how web-based software and collaboration might seem ho-hum. But consider a traveling sales exec who can connect to his quarterly forecast spreadsheet from the airport. He can update it with the results of his latest meeting, and his inside sales rep back in the home office will see it immediately.

Now what's different about this: the company doesn't have to buy a full-fledged laptop, license Office, set up a VPN, deploy SharePoint, etc. They just get the sales person some sort of portable device with a web browser and internet access. There's that buzzphrase again: paradigm shift. It isn't about spreadsheets per se. It's about an entirely new way to deliver business applications and enable collaboration. There will be new and innovative features along the lines you mention -- pull in stats on your account via a web search. But don't be surprised if people still just use the spreadsheet features 90% of the time, as they only use 10% of features in traditional software today.

Oh, by the way, I'll drop that prospectus in the mail to you. In west Texas, the weather may already have turned. After all, you know what they say about the climate being simple -- two seasons, summer, and January. :)

#13 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 02:22 AM

Now, give me a chance to tie together parts of that spreadsheet with the Google search API, and I might get more excited.


It would sure be cool to be able to write a script which queried Google's search and fed the results directly into your designated Google Spreadsheet...

Same with information from Sitemaps or Analytics - why download an excel formatted CSV if you could import the results directly to Google's spreadsheet app? I could see all of these products as incredibly useful if Google would enable some greater interactability (is that word?) between the tools.

Google keeps coming up with new apps, and each new app as a stand alone is interesting - but the ability to exchange information between them is a bit limiting, and could be so much more.

#14 BillSlawski

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 02:38 AM

It's about an entirely new way to deliver business applications and enable collaboration.



The simplicity of the method will certainly win over some folks, but I think that there will still be a large number that insist on housing their own data, and not having a Google or anyone else warehouse it. I've run into that before with calendaring, and event sharing.

IT departments love their VPNs, and Sharepoint, and I'm not sure that an application like this is going to change corporate culture that much, at least with large corporations.

Where it might have the biggest impact is with small to medium sized organizations. I can already do a fair amount of number crunching with my PDA, which lets me edit and add to spreadsheets fairly painlessly in Excel. Would I switch to Google? Maybe, but maybe not.

But, I'm still a lot more excited over some of the possibilities that Joe mentions. Being able to use a spreadsheet as a tool that can interact with other aspects of Google does hold a lot of appeal.

Bar-B-Q'd Armadillo? Any good?

#15 eKstreme

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 03:30 AM

I haven't tried it, but I don't like the idea at all: with our current way of working, if my computer crashes or I'm away from my computer, I can still (potentially) access the data if I have another copy with me or backed up - it's doable if you take time to be careful.

Now if all my data is in Google, and for some odd reason it goes down... how am I going to get hold of my files?

Couple more things:

1. The beauty of office programs is - well - you just need a computer. With net-based apps, you also dictate you need a connection. If you can't access the net, tough.

2. Interoprability is fairly high right now. I can open MS Office files using any number of non-MS programs. Personally, I use OpenOffice and MS Office for many things - it depends on the mood, really :D

Just my 2c, which is about 1p for us peeps in the UK.

#16 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 11:03 AM

The simplicity of the method will certainly win over some folks, but I think that there will still be a large number that insist on housing their own data, and not having a Google or anyone else warehouse it.


Take a look at the phenomenal success of Salesforce.com. Many thousands of customers, some very large organizations, trusting business-critical CRM data to an outsource provider. So while I agree some companies may be slow to adopt, I think the model is already being proven, and the upside is limitless. Salesforce.com does have an excellent web services API that will let you back up your data offline, but my guess is that the majority of customers don't do that. Our web site integrates directly with Salesforce, and in more than a year it has been virtually flawless. The success of Salesforce.com has pushed competitors like Siebel to also offer web services as well. Of course, time will tell, but I think after decades of on-again, off-again tries at "fat server, thin client" computing in one shape or another, there is a critical mass of technology and customers and the traditional business software market might well be remade in the coming decade. Well, just my two cents!

Armadillo? Tastes like chicken, or so I understand. Now, roadrunner. I hear they're delicious. But catching the darn things, that's the problem.

Signed,

Wile E. Coyote

#17 dgeary9

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 03:36 PM

salesforce.com is an excellent example. I think a web based spreadsheet will have huge uptake in sales organizations (trust me, there is little that sales guys can't figure out how to break in a spreadsheet!!). I suspect power users will always want control on their own desktop - for many other people, having the data at Google is probably safer than having it on a traveling laptop :).



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