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Technology CompaniesGoogleSign up for Google Spreadsheets

Sign up for Google Spreadsheets

Nathan Weinberg points to the sign up page for Google Spreadsheets and a brief tour of the browser-based app.

It appears that my finger crossing didn’t work and that so far Google Spreadsheets lives in a text-only world–at least for starters. This suggests that it may not be possible to integrate ink in–even as published pictures. Nathan points out that graphics are on Google’s Todo list, so when they get around to this, maybe then ink can join the online spreadsheet world.

Here’s a link to all the conversation going on at TechMeme. There are some interesting comments from Tom Foremski and Dennis Howlett who are concerned that Google is jumping into and crushing too many small companies by releasing small-not-really-products like Google Spreadsheets.

And Don Dodge is insisting that Google Spreadsheets is going to compete more against StarOffice than Excel. He argues that Office is growing into a platform that ISVs can leverage. He even tosses in the “server” word. I imagine the ISV support will be a big differentiators for awhile, however, I think Don is ignoring the potential here for Google Spreadsheets and similar apps to expand markets. Take browser-based email, for example. One might ask, Does Yahoo Mail compete more with free/open source email clients or Outlook? I think the question would miss the true value of services like Yahoo Mail, GMail and Hotmail. I might use Outlook or Eudora for my small business, but these other services have permeated my mobile, digital life quite thoroughly. They have expanded my use of email. And look at the service side and the ad revenue these services bring in? Outlook could have hosted ads all these years, but they have been a better fit in free, online email systems.

Google Spreadsheets may attract users looking for a free spreadsheet app–pulling people away from StarOffice. However, my guess is that the collaboration, implicit remote backups (autosave), and access wherever you are from whichever computer you are using (more people are using more than one computer) are going to be three of the growing number of features that create new, growing markets for spreadsheet users. That’s the key.

Update: Philipp Lenssen has the first actual user experiences with Google Spreadsheets–including two screencast movies.

Vinny Carpenter reports on his experiences here. He describes Google Spreadsheets as a “home run.”

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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