Google, Quickoffice and Productivity Beyond X86

Ben Bajarin / June 5th, 2012

In an interesting move today, just weeks before Google I/O, Google has announced via their blog that they have acquired Quickoffice, a productivity suite of software, and team. This move has a number of interesting implications.

First and foremost I believe this move again signals Google’s intent to go vertical. Acquiring Quickoffice certainly gives them a differentiator for their own hardware when it comes to productivity software, should they choose to use it that way. Of course on the surface and in the short term I would expect them to bundle this productivity suite on all Android devices. This move on the outset is designed to go right after Windows on ARM (Windows RT) and the inclusion of Microsoft Office on all Windows RT devices out of the gate.

This move is largely focused on tablets. It is no industry secret that Google is in the weakest position when it comes to tablets. The iPad has continued to dominate, and most likely will for the foreseeable future, but the lack of industry confidence in Android tablets has been astounding. In fact many analysts, our firm included, have more optimism for Windows 8 based tablets which are not even in the market yet over Android tablets which have been in the market for 2 years. It is not everyday that professional forecasters and industry observers will give an advantage to an unproven and unreleased platform, yet that is exactly what has happened. This again just re-enforces the lack of confidence in Android tablets to break into the mass market.

Google will obviously seek to change all of this with their acquisition of Quickoffice. This demonstrates, to this analyst at least, that Google may be starting to understand tablets and that tablets are a viable platform for productivity. I have been of the opinion that Google had not been interested in tablet productivity and in particular tablets (or Android for that matter) in a business setting. Most of Google’s moves and posture toward this market has been focused on consumers. Just look at the renaming of their store as an example. The Google Play Store doesn’t make me think I should go purchase productivity software or applications.

The other interesting observation I would throw out is that the myth that X86 (or Intel and AMD Silicon) is the platform of choice for productivity is certainly busted. I believe I could make an extremely strong case of this point simply doing an analysis of the iPad but with Microsoft Office on Windows RT and now Quickoffice as a standard for Android, we certainly have enough evidence that ARM platforms will be fully sufficient not only computing platforms but productivity platforms.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • FalKirk

    “…many analysts, our firm included, have more optimism for Windows 8 based tablets which are not even in the market yet over Android tablets which have been in the market for 2 years.”

    This above observation may not be new and it may not be unknown but it continues to enlighten and astound.

    Once the iPad was accepted as a viable product and tablets were accepted as a viable category, most industry observers assumed that Android tablets would dominate tablet market share just as they had done in smart phones. Not only didn’t Android tablets dominate but they’ve struggled to even remain relevant.

    I think one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on why this is so was written by Ben Bajarin right here on Tech.pinions. It’s titled: “How Apple is Cornering the Market in Mobile Devices.”

    In short, you can argue that an Android tablet has as good or better hardware as an iPad. And you can argue that an Android tablet has as good an operating system as an iPad. You can even argue – although you’d be lying to yourself – that Android tablet Apps are “good enough”. But no intellectually honest observer can argue that the the hardware, operating system and software work together on an Android table as well as the they do on the iPad. The iPad’s strength is it’s ecosystem. And Android’s achilles heel is Google Play.

    I believe that this is the reason why observers think that Windows 8 has a better chance of succeeding in tablets than Android does, despite Android’s two year head start. The Windows 8 software and accompanying hardware may be untested but no one doubts Microsoft’s commitment to, or experience with, creating ecosystems. While Google has been literally “Play”-ing around with their store and the surrounding ecosystem, everyone knows that when it comes to ecosystems, Microsoft will be all business.

  • FalKirk

    “…many analysts, our firm included, have more optimism for Windows 8 based tablets which are not even in the market yet over Android tablets which have been in the market for 2 years.”

    This above observation may not be new and it may not be unknown but it continues to enlighten and astound.

    Once the iPad was accepted as a viable product and tablets were accepted as a viable category, most industry observers assumed that Android tablets would dominate tablet market share just as they had done in smart phones. Not only didn’t Android tablets dominate but they’ve struggled to even remain relevant.

    I think one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on why this is so was written by Ben Bajarin right here on Tech.pinions. It’s titled: “How Apple is Cornering the Market in Mobile Devices.”

    In short, you can argue that an Android tablet has as good or better hardware as an iPad. And you can argue that an Android tablet has as good an operating system as an iPad. You can even argue – although you’d be lying to yourself – that Android tablet Apps are “good enough”. But no intellectually honest observer can argue that the the hardware, operating system and software work together on an Android table as well as the they do on the iPad. The iPad’s strength is it’s ecosystem. And Android’s achilles heel is Google Play.

    I believe that this is the reason why observers think that Windows 8 has a better chance of succeeding in tablets than Android does, despite Android’s two year head start. The Windows 8 software and accompanying hardware may be untested but no one doubts Microsoft’s commitment to, or experience with, creating ecosystems. While Google has been literally “Play”-ing around with their store and the surrounding ecosystem, everyone knows that when it comes to ecosystems, Microsoft will be all business.

  • FalKirk

    “the myth that X86 (or Intel and AMD Silicon) is the platform of choice for productivity is certainly busted. I believe I could make an extremely strong case… …. …. that ARM platforms will be fully sufficient not only computing platforms but productivity platforms.”

    Two observations.

    First, it will be interesting to see which Windows tablets sell best, the Window RT, which only has Metro, or the Windows 8, which has both Metro and the more traditional desktop OS.

    I think that many assume that the “two is better than one” philosophy of Windows 8 will win out. I feel the opposite way. While I think that a tiny percent of people who need both operating systems will love the dual functionality, the vast majority will find the traditional desktop portion of Windows 8 to be a non-starter just as it has been for the past 10 years. Why add a level of complexity and confusion to your tablet if you’re not even going to use the second OS?

    Second, the word “productivity” is being used like a cudgel by traditionalists and tablet naysayers. They define “productivity” as what they do. They define a “productivity” OS as the OS they are using. Any other type of work and any other type of OS need not apply.

    Hmm. You don’t use examples to create definitions, you use definitions to identify examples. A duck is a mammal but you don’t define the word “mammal” by tailoring it to be an exact description of a duck. Neither do you define work by looking at your own work, define a “real operating system” by looking at your own operating system or define “personal computer” by looking at your own personal computer.

    Not only are tablets quickly becoming more and more powerful and capable but even if they weren’t they’d still be productivity platforms. In fact, I would argue that the were better productivity platforms than traditional PCs because they can be learned more easily and readily used in more places by more people.

    It’s all about the job to be done. Nothing is “productive” unless it does the job that it is “hired” to do. “Productive” computers cannot be defined by their architecture, their OS or their form factor. They’re defined by their usefulness. Arm tablets, Touch operating systems and tablet form factors are all extremely useful in the proper setting.

    • steve_wildstrom

      You question about ARM vs. x86 Windows tablets is the question of the year.

      But I agree with you completely about dual functionality. I’ve been switching back and forth today between a MacBook Air and an iPad. I value the fact that each has an operating system and user interface optimized for the work I do on it. My preliminary reading on Windows 8 is that it will be a good tablet UI (though I’ll reserve real judgment until I can try it on real hardware) but I find it extremely clumsy on a laptop. It will get better when used on a Windows laptop with a proper touchpad (I’m very dubious about touch screens on laptops, a perception heightened by the experience of an iPad with a keyboard) but I’m not sure it will be good enough.

      • FalKirk

        “You(r) question about ARM vs. x86 Windows tablets is the question of the year.”-steve_wildstrom

        Yeah, the holiday quarter sales numbers for iPads, Amazon Fires, Windows RT, Windows 8 and all Android tablets (did I forget anyone?) are going to be FASCINATING.

        I readily admit that I could be totally wrong in my prediction that Windows RT will outsell Window 8 tablets. I THINK it’s going to happen that way and I have what I think are good reasons for predicting it will happen that way but, hey, who knows?

        For one thing, the first quarter may not be a fair test. The hardware may be completely different and weight, battery life etc. may dramatically affect sales numbers. For another thing, the initial sales burst may hide rather than reveal what is truly going on. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are going to be a lot of initial sales. Whether the sales momentum is maintained after the tablets are in the wild will be the true test.

      • FalKirk

        “You(r) question about ARM vs. x86 Windows tablets is the question of the year.”-steve_wildstrom

        Yeah, the holiday quarter sales numbers for iPads, Amazon Fires, Windows RT, Windows 8 and all Android tablets (did I forget anyone?) are going to be FASCINATING.

        I readily admit that I could be totally wrong in my prediction that Windows RT will outsell Window 8 tablets. I THINK it’s going to happen that way and I have what I think are good reasons for predicting it will happen that way but, hey, who knows?

        For one thing, the first quarter may not be a fair test. The hardware may be completely different and weight, battery life etc. may dramatically affect sales numbers. For another thing, the initial sales burst may hide rather than reveal what is truly going on. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are going to be a lot of initial sales. Whether the sales momentum is maintained after the tablets are in the wild will be the true test.

    • steve_wildstrom

      You question about ARM vs. x86 Windows tablets is the question of the year.

      But I agree with you completely about dual functionality. I’ve been switching back and forth today between a MacBook Air and an iPad. I value the fact that each has an operating system and user interface optimized for the work I do on it. My preliminary reading on Windows 8 is that it will be a good tablet UI (though I’ll reserve real judgment until I can try it on real hardware) but I find it extremely clumsy on a laptop. It will get better when used on a Windows laptop with a proper touchpad (I’m very dubious about touch screens on laptops, a perception heightened by the experience of an iPad with a keyboard) but I’m not sure it will be good enough.

    • steve_wildstrom

      BTW, “productivity software” has become a term of art referring to Microsoft Office and its ilk. I don’t think anyone except perhaps Microsoft thinks that, say, Photoshop, InDesign, WordPress, FileMaker, and even Visual Studio are not productivity tools.

    • steve_wildstrom

      BTW, “productivity software” has become a term of art referring to Microsoft Office and its ilk. I don’t think anyone except perhaps Microsoft thinks that, say, Photoshop, InDesign, WordPress, FileMaker, and even Visual Studio are not productivity tools.

      • FalKirk

        “”productivity software” has become a term of art referring to Microsoft Office and its ilk” -steve_wildstrom

        Really? Man am I out of it. I don’t follow Microsoft closely but you’d think I would know that.

        In my head when I read “productivity software” I immediately translated it into the label “real” software as in “real” work and “real” computer and “real” operating system etc.

        Thanks for setting me straight. My bad.

      • FalKirk

        “”productivity software” has become a term of art referring to Microsoft Office and its ilk” -steve_wildstrom

        Really? Man am I out of it. I don’t follow Microsoft closely but you’d think I would know that.

        In my head when I read “productivity software” I immediately translated it into the label “real” software as in “real” work and “real” computer and “real” operating system etc.

        Thanks for setting me straight. My bad.

  • FalKirk

    “the myth that X86 (or Intel and AMD Silicon) is the platform of choice for productivity is certainly busted. I believe I could make an extremely strong case… …. …. that ARM platforms will be fully sufficient not only computing platforms but productivity platforms.”

    Two observations.

    First, it will be interesting to see which Windows tablets sell best, the Window RT, which only has Metro, or the Windows 8, which has both Metro and the more traditional desktop OS.

    I think that many assume that the “two is better than one” philosophy of Windows 8 will win out. I feel the opposite way. While I think that a tiny percent of people who need both operating systems will love the dual functionality, the vast majority will find the traditional desktop portion of Windows 8 to be a non-starter just as it has been for the past 10 years. Why add a level of complexity and confusion to your tablet if you’re not even going to use the second OS?

    Second, the word “productivity” is being used like a cudgel by traditionalists and tablet naysayers. They define “productivity” as what they do. They define a “productivity” OS as the OS they are using. Any other type of work and any other type of OS need not apply.

    Hmm. You don’t use examples to create definitions, you use definitions to identify examples. A duck is a mammal but you don’t define the word “mammal” by tailoring it to be an exact description of a duck. Neither do you define work by looking at your own work, define a “real operating system” by looking at your own operating system or define “personal computer” by looking at your own personal computer.

    Not only are tablets quickly becoming more and more powerful and capable but even if they weren’t they’d still be productivity platforms. In fact, I would argue that the were better productivity platforms than traditional PCs because they can be learned more easily and readily used in more places by more people.

    It’s all about the job to be done. Nothing is “productive” unless it does the job that it is “hired” to do. “Productive” computers cannot be defined by their architecture, their OS or their form factor. They’re defined by their usefulness. Arm tablets, Touch operating systems and tablet form factors are all extremely useful in the proper setting.

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