Update: Google has confirmed the purchase of Upstartle, the makers of Writely. So you all know that Google’s got designs for a G:Drive and doing an end run around Microsoft? Now what if you can simply store and save data on that drive, but that’s not […]

Update: Google has confirmed the purchase of Upstartle, the makers of Writely.

writelySo you all know that Google’s got designs for a G:Drive and doing an end run around Microsoft? Now what if you can simply store and save data on that drive, but that’s not clearly as much fun. What if you could write a document in a browser, much like you write on Microsoft Word, but then save it directly to the G:Drive? That would increase the utility of G:Drive tremendously. Maybe that explains why Google is rumored to be in talks with Writely, a browser-based document processing application, for a possible acqusition.

Writely, is the first product of Upstartle, LLC. (More on them here.) Writely is one of the Business 2.0 Next Net 25 companies. The pending deal has been making the rounds in the Valley today. I picked up this very strong rumor from fairly reliable sources, when visiting the money corridor (aka Sand Hill Road) this morning. Now I am still waiting to hear from Google and Writely about the rumors, and will treat this chatter as just that, unless of course I hear otherwise from the two companies.

Now buying Writely is in line with Google thinking of using browser for everything. I mean an online word processor, and online excel spread sheet make a lot more sense than making people switch to OpenOffice. Anyway will update the story later when I hear from the two respective companies.

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  1. If this does indeed become Google’s approach, I believe that it’s very smart. It’s sort of an end-around into Microsoft’s bread and butter market.

    Google may face some challenges though:

    -The general population is still unaware of all things Web 2.0 and are conditioned to use Microsoft Office; if for no other reason than just habit.

    -Microsoft Office documents are stored on local machines and not on Google’s servers. Convincing the masses that their documents will be safe (especially with all that has been going on lately) may be quite challenging—-Even if it’s FREE!

  2. Andrew Garrett Wednesday, March 8, 2006

    If you twist your head a bit to look at it from the right direction, Google Pages could quite easilly be a PowerPoint replacement.

    All that’s really lacking is Excel.

  3. Although MS Office and Google Office are comparable, I dont see them as direct competitors. They are borned for different purposes.

  4. Some thoughts about Windows Live and Office Live. MS may have invented and marketed those concepts, but Google is in better position to take the opportunities.

    “One harvests and another reap”

  5. Om,
    I don’t think this is a good idea for google and neither do i think they should would go for it.

    1. AJAX no matter what you say cannot scale up for such apps.
    2. Google has tie up with Sun for open office, it should be pushing for xforms , not a AJAX based writing doc (More here http://amanthan.blogspot.com/2006/03/xforms-extension-for-firefox.html ) Open Document can natively support xForms.
    3. Mozilla is working on Xforms extension (they released 0.4 build recently) and I used it for a few complex forms. In the above link i mention how to use it.

    Lots of other reasons this is not gonna work well, like what is the revenue model ? I don’t want ads next to my sales reports. In case they are doing it, then it must be technology acquisitions for some good engineers.

    Besides handling browser crashes, network failures, offline editing capabilities are critical. So in case they are going to provide an online editor, its critical to provide offline too. This is where open office is needed. You can edit offline and sync online etc.
    I am sorry but writely, numsum etc are technology demonstration projects, they are not usable applications yet !! Look how long its taking Google to get a calendar out of the door ? Complex applications like office will take more effort. We might be looking at years here.

  6. I think it makes a fair bit of sense as Google move towards an office suite. With Writely and it’s business model that’s a little tricky to monetize, it makes sense for them too.

  7. Amit Agarwal [Digital Inspiration] Wednesday, March 8, 2006

    Good find Om.

    Writely makes sense for Google.

  8. Luistxo Fernandez Wednesday, March 8, 2006

    Reading this a minute ago, the contextual GigaAd was quite right. Screenshot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/luistxo/109995061/
    Unlike Microsoft, it doesn’t seem Google Office needs ads to get publicited.

  9. Writely is fine, but I don’t see the benefit for Google to buy rather than build here. (a) Writely is a hyped name among 2.0 bloggers, but most people have no idea who or what they are, so there’s miniscule brand value; (b) both Gmail and Blogger already solve most of the technological hurdles, the biggest exception being MS .doc import/export; (c) does anyone think that Google needs Writely’s networked-application expertise?

    If anything I’d think they’d buy Writely just so that MS and Yahoo! can’t.

  10. In what way can Google Base replace Access?

    Anyway, I think Google needs a better address book before it can practically be Outlook replacement.

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