Friday, March 10, 2006

Two other ways of looking at Google's Writely acquisition

As much as all the talk on this has been about how Google is thumbing it's nose at Microsoft, I think they real idea has to do with enabling their role on mediating how online applications are really used.

When Google puts out a (lame) product like Pages, then follows up with a similar acquisition like Writely (closed to new registration), there must be something larger going on than playground taunting. And the key to thinking about it is how the products differ.

The key incremental things that Writely brings are:

1. A tag based file mangement system - they may call them "labels" but this is a great fit

2. Output to PDF - a great bridge for web content to be consumed offline, and

3. Wiki-like collaboration features - again, a natural evolution of what Pages should be

What Writely doesn't try to do is replace Word. MS word is for massive documents that need fine format control whose documents are really meant to be "published" in a polished form.

You know what? Sometimes I need that, but most of the time I don't. Just as photos are now mostly digital and meant for web or digital consumption, I believe that written content is the same: mostly meant for digital consumption in blogs, on web, on mobile.

One example, how many resumes do you read in digital form vs. printed out. When I was looking for a job out of college, it was all about the font and the nice paper you used when you mailed out your resume and the cardinal rule was that it needed to fit on one page only.

These days, I read resumes mostly as email attachments or web pages. By the time I interview someone, I've already know what a resume is going to tell me. If someone gives me one, I usually give it back because I don't need it. I admit that sending a nicely formatted resume in an envelope through the mail is becoming rarer and may get yours looked at, but only for certain jobs where presentation of written materials is key.

I think that Google is getting 4 hot developers, locking them in with a restricted stock grant of not a lot of money after being able to see their product and having demonstrated their hunger and creativity. Putting these features into Pages and giving the project to the Writely team is a huge long term win for them.

Phil Sim has a good insight into this as well, speculating that the Lighthouse project is actually about file management and how the Writely acquisition fits in.


Post a Comment

<< Home