Why Google Apps Need to Get Better

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2012-01-04 Print this article Print

Using his Business Insider blog operations as an example, Henry Blodget made a compelling argument as to why Google should pump more money into improving Google Apps.

Blodget's predicament goes like this:

Of course, because we are occasionally e-mailed Microsoft Office files and need to be able to open them, and because we occasionally need to do things that Microsoft Office apps do well and Google Apps don't, we still keep copies of Microsoft Office on most of our machines. Thus, we still pay Microsoft fat license fees for Office applications, even though we rarely use them. Hopefully, someday, we'll stop getting emailed Office files and Google Apps will get better, and we'll just be able to drop Office altogether.
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Specifically, Blodget's beef is with Google Spreadsheets, or rather the lack of quality charting functionality, which he requires for his company's new research business. He and his team had to use Microsoft Excel for charts such as this.

Of course, one of the major knocks on Google Apps has always been weaker spreadsheet and presentation functionality than Microsoft Office's Excel and PowerPoint apps. It certainly hasn't been Gmail or Docs, which are full-bodied enough for most folks.

Interestingly, Google overhauled the editors in Google Apps in April 2010, but Blodget and others still find them wanting. Perhaps another rewrite, with full HTML5, will solve this issue?

Why it might be tempting to think Blodget's scenario is an edge case -- that shops should either go all Microsoft Office (or Office 365) or Google Apps -- it doesn't work like that and likely won't for a long time.

Consider that Google jsut lost 13,000 out of the 30,000 seats for its Los Angeles contract because the Los Angeles Police Department chose to remain on Novell GroupWise, citing security issues with Google's cloud computing model.

Also, while Google Apps for Education just secured University of California at Berkeley for 2012, the school still uses Microsoft Office, Windows, Projects and Visio.

It's hard to not only be all things to all people but even just to duplicate functionality baked into a productivity suite that goes back nearly two decades. You can't just do that overnight.

Google Apps will be 5 next month, and while it's gotten more advanced faster than Microsoft advanced Office, it's still not the complete

Google has argued that most end users, even power users, don't want the 300-something features in the Office suite that Microsoft touts.

Maybe not, but many power users who want to move to the cloud certainly want better spreadsheet and presentation functionality than Google Apps has to offer at present.

I asked Google, which rarely misses an opportunity to defend Google Apps, for comment. The company declined, which makes me think that Apps might be getting some fine-tuning we don't yet know about beyond the well-publicized integration with Google+.

It's been two years since the last major Apps overhaul, so keep an eye out this year.

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