Google Docs and Speadsheets are part of Google’s attempt to enter the offline office applications domain. The future through Google’s eyes is clear–it would like to see every PC only need an OS, with the rest of the applications online, accessible as and when needed. Needless to say, a broadband connection forms the backbone of this future. Since Google’s online services are free, the only expenses involved are for Net access.
Also, since most users of offline office packages rarely use more than 10 per cent of the package’s functionality, the availability of such free services will ensure that a significant part of
the current user base will refrain from investing in office application in the future (unless they are also freely available) and stick to a broadband Net connection–the costs of which are also steadily falling. Documents created on these online services can be stored online, so you need not invest in local storage, making the need of large hard disks redundant, especially for office tasks/business PCs. The future of office PCs therefore looks pretty slim, since only a thin client will be needed.
Google Spreadsheets, unlike Google Docs, is a result of in house R&D. It’s not fair to compare its capabilities with those of full blown office packages. There are limitations because the online interface is miniscule, compared to the file size of the offline versions, and the response of the online application is influenced by the width of your broadband connection. But, there are a few advantages. It is much easier to collaborate using an online document, and worries about data corruption, storage and transferability are addressed, since the data is always available online, and we”ll assume that Google’s storage facilities are rugged and redundant.