Writely now proudly wears the colors of baby blue and mint green as it has officially been integrated into the Google office suite. Google Docs & Spreadsheets now houses a new image of Writely. All of the Writely functionality is still there. Your Writely documents will now appear alongside your spreadsheets. The integration is pretty clean, and of course Google added a search feature for your spreadsheets and documents.
Just like other disruptive technologies, Google Docs & Spreadsheets is unable to match all of the features and power of its old-school competitor, Microsoft Office. I highly doubt many business professionals today will be switching to Google’s office tools. However, I think Google is heading into a non-consumer market, just like PCs did in their early day.
PCs entered the non-consumer market of family and home computing, and Google is entering the non-consumer market of third-world countries. Their $100 laptop initiative will be bringing computing power to millions of people who could never afford a computer. Google has been investing in Internet infrastructure in several countries providing WiFi Internet access to impoverished areas of the world. The $100 laptops will not have much storage space, which makes the free online application model a wonderful fit. Bill Gates thinks that the computers need disk storage, but that is only necessary in the old paradigm. In 2004, Steve Ballmer thought a $100 PC would help prevent software piracy. Piracy isn’t an issue when it comes to web apps funded by advertising. You can’t pirate a web application.
Over time, Google’s office will eventually reach a level of productivity where it will threaten Microsoft’s Office. At first, the mini computer wasn’t threatened by the PC, but eventually the PC reached a level of performance where it was able to do everything that the mini computer could, but at a lower cost. Thus it disrupted the market. I see the same thing happening with web applications such as Google’s Docs & Spreadsheets.