Google says it means business

8 Feb 2007

Search giant Google yesterday unveiled its foray into the Irish business applications market. The company unveiled its Google Docs & Spreadsheets applications set that can be used collaboratively by 50 users simultaneously.

As well as this, the company revealed significant changes to its Gmail web email product. Previously a service that could be accessed on an invitation-only basis, Gmail will now be made universally available to anyone in the Irish market.

Bill Kipp, consumer operations manager for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) with Google, told that the company’s search technology was the common thread running through all of its email and business applications products.

When asked was it a definitive strategy to take on Microsoft in the office software market, Kipp demurred. “It’s not a poke in the eye at anybody, really. It’s an evolution of an idea that most documents ultimately go over the internet.

“Traditionally spreadsheets are difficult to collaborate on so we set about using the inherent capabilities of the internet to collaborate and communicate and access documents using the latest and greatest technology. It’s very easy to keep the application up to date because it sits on the internet.”

He said that Docs & Spreadsheets is the latest in a stream of online applications Google is keen to develop. “Back in 2004 we started with Gmail, our first true online application, with good storage, spam blocker and easy to search.

“Today Gmail is being used as a communications platform with chat and calendar built in and you can access it on your mobile phone if you want.

“Today we’re thinking more about documents and spreadsheets. The beauty of Docs & Spreadsheets is that you can work with someone else on the same spreadsheet and chat within the application. Up to 50 people can work on a spreadsheet or document simultaneously.”

When asked again about how Microsoft must feel being targeted in a field that it traditionally holds sway with its Excel spreadsheet product, Kipp said there are clear differences. “Microsoft’s products are different tools and stand alone. We are focused on the collaborative aspect of it with simple functionality such as maths built in.

“Search is still our core competency and you will see that through whatever products Google unveils in the future. Importantly we are focusing on online applications so you need to be online and connected to use them,” Kipp said.

By John Kennedy