Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Gdrive + Writely

Last week Google acquired Writely, an online wordprocessor created by company named Upstartle, triggering, as usual, wave of ?Google goes after Microsoft? noise. Almost immediately it was followed by the voices of skeptics, including Andrew Orlowski’s analysis in the Register and Nicholas Carr comment, scoring points for obvious, namely, that Writely is nowhere near replacing Word anytime soon.

I didn?t have a chance to play with Writely, but despite that, I am pretty much sure that it will not be replacing Word anytime soon.

Nevertheless, it would be disappointing if it ended up, as Register suggests following Jupiter Research, just as a beefed up text input box for Google?s email and blogging platform. Like Gmail is able to be preferred over Outlook despite lacking many of its features, the online wordprocessor could find a more prominent place by taking advantage of its inherent advantages: simplicity, collaboration facilities, and unrestricted accessibility from any place, just to name a few.

Although Writely would have a difficult time to gain traction as a standalone service, it would be a different story if it was introduced to wide range of users as a ?one click? alternative to offline editing. Google did a similar exercise with its chat, when it integrated it with Gmail, allowing any user to try it immediately, with no installations required. From my personal point of view it was a killer idea ? previously, when it was a standalone application, I found little incentive to bother with the chat, even if I installed it initially just to take a look; now, when it is one click away in the already open Gmail browser tab, I use it almost every day.

Gdrive could serve as a similar driver for Writely.

Gdrive would deliver immediate value to the users with little barriers for wide adoption, since free storage for user?s files, if security and privacy issues are left aside, is an easier sell than a entirely new way of document editing. Gdrive users will be able, of course, to download their documents from Gdrive, edit them locally and then upload again; but what if an option existed to avoid this hassle and make simple amendments directly online? A click on ?edit? and the user would find himself in the word of Writely.

Even if online wordprocessor would initially suffice only for a limited range of scenarios, from there, Writely could safely keep evolving, till one day, who knows, someone will discover that for his simple text editing needs, he doesn?t need a desktop application anymore.

Update: I just read article on Squash in which Writely role is being considered in a way close to this thinking; it paints a larger picture of Google’s vision of online/offline coexistence, and mentions also OpenOffice element, which I left out.