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.