Another Google App, Another Google Yawn

OK, so it is rather neat that Google is releasing a Web-based spreadsheet, but come on, is it really that big a deal?

According to the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper, when you compare the spreadsheet to “Writely [Google’s online word processor], Google’s existing blogging tool, Instant Messenger service, e-mail product, calendar and Web page creator, the spreadsheet application gives the company a full suite [that] can compete directly with Microsoft’s best-selling Works and Office software.”

OK, I’ll give you Works, but Office? Puh-lease!

Google’s own executives don’t say they’re competing with Microsoft Office. That’s a good thing, because when you compare Writely and Google Spreadsheets to Word and Excel, it’s not even close.

Make no doubt about it. Google kicks Microsoft’s rump at some things. When it comes to search, there’s no comparison. And, personally I’ll take Gmail and the Google Calendar over Outlook any day of the week.

But, all this hype about how Google is going to be taking Microsoft to some Silicon Valley fight club and laying it out cold is wishful thinking.

Web-based applications have not replaced, and will not ever replace, desktop-based applications. I have heard until I’m sick of it about how centralized, network-based applications are the wave of the future. I heard back in the mid-80s, and here in the mid-00s, I’m hearing it again.

It doesn’t work because the Pandora’s Box of the PC was broken open decades ago and people want control of their applications on their desktops. We can talk about how wonderful it is to share information and data, but people don’t want to share their work.

The other problem is that no one really wants to trust their work to some computer out there somewhere which is always one busted Internet connection away from being completely inaccessible. It’s one thing to keep data you use less often out there in the Internet cloud somewhere, it’s another thing entirely to keep data you work on every day out there in Web-land.

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