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Google vs. Excel

Via Dina Mehta, a useful blog on branding issues, What's Your Brand Mantra? by Jennifer Rice. Her latest entry is on Google Spreadsheets. She quotes two bloggers on how Google's product is missing Excel's more powerful features, such as macros and pivot tables, then writes:

Ok, show of hands... how many of you actually use pivot tables and macros? The 80/20 rule would suggest that 80% of Excel users use 20% of its features... and that's probably being too generous...

Google's strategy is not to create me-too Microsoft products that are loaded with tons of features. As I see it, Google is taking a much longer view, going for unserved and overserved markets that Microsoft apparently doesn't want.

Indeed. I'm a daily Excel user, and the most complex spreadsheet I use on a regular basis has nine worksheets, the largest of which has over 4,000 rows of data. And yet I don't use macros or pivot tables. I should, I know, but I've never had the burning need to learn them.

Jennifer goes on to write:

So going back to Google's "half-assed" version of Excel: if they're following the classic path of industry disruption, they should be pleased when they hear scoffing remarks about their beta products. This allows them room to establish a foothold at the base of the mountain, serving customers that Microsoft (apparently) doesn't want. They can gain experience, add new features, gradually move up-market, and eventually take the high ground.
I'd say it's a good bet that Microsoft takes this threat seriously, even if some observers don't. When I was at Be, we were told that Microsoft's internal philosophy on operating system competition -- and this would apply equally to application software, I think -- was "never allow a single crack in the wall", because cracks, no matter how small to start, grow with time.


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