Google's QuickOffice Buy Pressures Microsoft Mobile Office Pricing



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Google is taking its fight against Microsoft Office to mobile devices. Acquiring QuickOffice gives Google a mobile-device presence and pressures Microsoft to offer Office at much lower prices on mobile devices than on the PC.

News Analysis


On 5 June 2012, Google bought QuickOffice, a privately held developer of office productivity applications for mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android and Symbian.


The office productivity market is changing, but Microsoft is still largely in control with over 90% market share on PCs (mostly because no other product is 100% compatible in features or format). But PCs are becoming relatively less important as people increasingly use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Many will give up certain functions so they can carry a tablet instead of a heavier PC, but over time, they want their tablets to be able to perform more of the functions they run on their PC. Users want to perform office automation tasks like reviewing documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and several products on the market allow documents (notably Microsoft Office ones) to be read and edited on mobile devices. Notably absent from this market have been Microsoft and Google.

There have been rumors for some time that Microsoft plans to enter the market for mobile office productivity applications. (It already has versions of Lync and OneNote for iOS.) Before now, Google had no real mobile-device story to tell. Google and Microsoft have had a mobile- related story โ€” browser-based products that can be accessed from any connected Web browser. But users like rich applications, and business users often need to use them when they are not connected to the Internet (on a plane, for example). Google announced its Web-based suite before mobile devices like the iPad were available. Since then, mobile applications have become extremely important. A mobile-device application strategy will be critical to future office productivity suites (see "How Will the Office Suite Evolve, and Will Microsoft Continue to Dominate the Market?" ). The purchase of QuickOffice, which already includes access to documents hosted on Google Docs, gives Google presence on that important platform.

QuickOffice has been around for some time and sells for $20 or less. Other mobile office suites sell for low prices through app stores. In the hands of a company with deep pockets like Google, QuickOffice can now be improved more rapidly, and put pressure on Microsoft to sell Office for iPad (if such a product emerges) at a lower price than Microsoft would like.

However, it would be difficult for Microsoft to sell Office for iPad at a price near that of typical iPad apps, for fear of cannibalizing sales of its PC versions and setting a lower price overall. It could offer a relatively low-featured release that is somewhat on par with the functions offered by other vendors. But as soon as the functions were sufficient for most users, there would be less reason to purchase the full Office suite for every user and Microsoft would lose its Office "cash cow." It should be noted, though, that Google is using the same strategy with Google Docs vs. Office on PCs, and so far Microsoft has maintained or increased the price of Office.



  • Continue to explore office productivity applications available for mobile devices. Recognize that the suitability for a given group of users depends on which features are included or excluded, and how close the products come to Office compatibility and visual fidelity.

  • Consider Google Docs for some users, especially if you are a Google Apps customer and outsourcing mail to Gmail. However, offering a mix of office productivity products to users may pose some management problems.

  • Consider all mobile-device office productivity applications to be tactical purchases until Microsoft's eventual offering becomes clear in terms of timing, capability and price.

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