Google Spreadsheet…



If you haven’t heard of this yet, I’m not quite sure how you’ve missed it since last night… There have been article, after article telling of Google’s intention to release a limited trial of their new online spreadsheet at a screenshot tour. Also, this will be a limited trial (so they don’t do an analytics type launch I suspect.) So, there is a form to submit your email address to be considered for the limited trial.


(Glad all that linking is done so I can actually type now…) Anyway, there were initial rumors that Google had acquired a group called irows (irows.com) whose website was coincedentaly missing last night. However, most reports say that it was developed in Google Labs. Apparently they based the technology on some technology acquired from a Wall Street software services provider. (Sorry, the one article that references them has become lost in the dozen or so links above.) Update – 2Web is the name of the company that got folded into Google’s New York City Office.

Not long ago, of course, google acquired writely.com which was a web-based word-processor. These 2 web-2.0 -ish apps would be cornerstones (along with gmail and calendar….) of Google’s long rumored web office suite that would (primarily) compete with MS Office. I think it’s interesting, the possible sharing capabilities look promising. (Live chat while collaborating on a spreadsheet.) In fact, it might turn into a worthwhile platform for distance tutoring of designing spreadsheets/formulas.

I don’t know that I’d classify it as an Excel killer (no more than Writely has killed Word.) If I were to take a survey of my computer customers I suspect 90% of them use Word, maybe 40% would use Excel on a regular basis. I use spreadsheets quite a bit for many “lite database” applications as well as their traditional number crunching use. An online spreadsheet is intriguing. The main concerns that I have is going to come down to who can search through the data. Of course, with calendar it’s private and can be shared with specific individuals, or the world depending on your choice. I am a bit slow though to move all my spreadsheet files to a Google server somewhere. (Of course, you can edit local files – it looks like csv and xls files are supported.)

I’d love to see these services have more support for other formats (OpenOffice/koffice since it should be license-free to implement….) And, in reality, it may just be that for what you use a spreadsheet for, this may replace Excel for you with no download.

There are free Officesuite solutions ( openoffice.org ) and they have “nibbled” at market share from Microsoft, but the 100MB or so download probably is a limiting factor (plus the install – there are many that are reluctant to install software on their own.) Maybe a web based suite would have greater traction?

In sum, the “killer features” of writely and the new google spreadsheet, are the collaboration and sharing possibilities, and time will tell if those features are enough to make them a “you have to use….” feature.

update –1:15PM EDT 6/6/06

Here’s the official Google blog post. And yet another writeup on Google Spreadsheet at ZDnet

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