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BLOG: Apple, Google, or Microsoft? Your platform will dictate your office app

Galen Gruman | Sept. 9, 2013
Signs point to an Apple-only, Google-only, and Microsoft-only set of productivity apps for their respective platforms

But Google bought Quickoffice in June 2012, which is when Quickoffice Pro for iPhone and Android smartphones appears to have been abandoned. Like Apple, Google is not too interested in cross-platform compatibility. Yes, apps that feed Google's search business are available for practically every platform, but the same is not true for apps that serve other business interests at Google.

When it bought Quickoffice, Google killed the poorly executed Quickoffice Connect product that integrated Quickoffice better with OS X and Windows, for example. At the same time, it delivered earlier this year an offline mode for Quickoffice on its Chrome OS laptops, essentially bolstering the poor editing tools in its Google Drive service.

We seem to be moving to a world where you'll realistically have a choice of just iWork on iOS and OS X, Quickoffice on Chrome OS (and perhaps iOS and Android tablets), and Office on Windows and (in a limited version) OS X. (Yes, Microsoft has Office for Android smartphones, the iPhone, and Windows Phone, but it's horrible on Windows Phone, Android, and iOS and can't be used seriously.) If this scenario plays out, Google Drive will be the barely functional cross-platform "solution" for non-Google platforms, just as the Web versions of Office 365 and iWork will be for the non-Microsoft and non-Apple platforms, respectively.

If that's how it goes, we'll lose an important asset: independent apps that work across platforms. Maybe Google will refresh its Quickoffice app for the iPhone after iOS 7 launches, and these fears will not come to pass. But the larger trend doesn't give me much hope that the future will be increased platform isolation, dividing the world into increasingly chasmed application camps.

To be clear, Quickoffice HD Pro for iPads and Android tablets still supports Dropbox, though the smartphone versions no longer do. Maybe Google has simply decided to abandon smartphone office apps, figuring the need is too small to invest in. If so, that's a mistake. Although a smartphone isn't a primary platform for document creation and editing, I can tell you that being able to do work from my iPhone has more than once saved the day. It's a great secondary tool compared to being able to do nothing. Losing that capability on smartphones would be a bad result as well.


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