Google has its new Spreadsheet web-application and it’s ruffling feathers at Microsoft. People are saying that this is Google firing a shot across Microsoft’s bow (I didn’t know that they had boats, but whatever). So, Google’s got their Spreadsheet and it’s supposed to be a competitor of MS Office’s Excel (and of course Writely is a competitor to MS Word). Well, here I am (a Microsoft shareholder and former Google shareholder) giving my opinion.
In general, webapps are a great idea. You can access your programs anywhere, from any computer, from any operating system. It’s a wonderful idea – however, there is a problem. These webapps depend on online connectivity. It does not matter that these webapps are almost good enough to replace the expensive Microsoft Office. Feel free to be paranoid that your files are saved on Google’s servers. With the U.S. Government breathing down the necks of ISPs, do you really want your data on Google’s servers? You could just keep it on your local hard drive and avoid this entire problem. If the NSA wants my hard drive, they have to get MY hard drive that is in my laptop or desktop. Why make it easier for the government to grab your data?
It does not matter if Google goes ahead with their Spreadsheet. If Microsoft wants to destroy a product, they can. Case in point: Netscape. How did Microsoft destroy Netscape? Internet Explorer was free. It was the underdog – it was the rebel browser for a while. If Google has its free Spreadsheet program and it starts eating away at Microsoft’s market share, then Microsoft will make Office incredibly cheap. MS may not make it free – would you pay $2 per license for the full functioning MS Excel versus the free Google Spreadsheet that is close to (but not exactly) MS Excel? Microsoft knows how to beat their competition to death.
At worst, Microsoft and Google will become the biggest company in the world. Micro-Google could exist one day. Their market capitalization would be amazing. The fun thing about tech companies is that they are smart. Microsoft and Google could one day become ONE company. Google could own the web and Microsoft could own the desktop (save for the 5% Mac contingency – which I am a part of). Either way, these webapps cannot replace local applications just yet. So if anyone from Microsoft is reading, just relax – everything will be fine. [BTW, Microsoft’s Windows CE or Mobile or whatever it’s called – their PocketPC OS is terrific – just make it work with Macs]. If anyone from Google is reading – you have an excellent search engine – think about joining with Microsoft. There’s no need to compete if you’re part of the same company. Plus, even if you decide to stay on your own, the world appreciates that there’s a company out there that forces Microsoft to have a better product. Good luck, msft and goog.