Google Steps Up Microsoft Rivalry With Quickoffice Acquisition

By June 6, 2012

In a move that could represent a gauntlet in a battle for mobile office suite share between Google and Microsoft, the former company acquired document, presentation and spreadsheet editor Quickoffice, which is available for most smartphone platforms.

Image: QuickofficeIn an announcement of the acquisition, Google engineering director Alan Warren wrote that “consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device.”

Warren dedicated space in the short announcement to highlighting Quickoffice’s success in loading third party file formats, in what could be a subtle indication that the purchase was made looking toward a productivity tool turf war with Microsoft, which has popularized a number of popular document types.

“Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite,” Warren wrote.

Google Drive, which launched this spring, is in many ways a direct competitor to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which also lets users edit documents in a web browser. Microsoft Office users can edit documents stored on SkyDrive simultaneously, a longtime feature of Google Docs that it seems plausible the company will replicate in products based off, or future versions of Quickoffice.

There is also an operating system dimension to the purchase, which comes as rumors swirl that Microsoft could be planning a version of Office for Android. Quickoffice is already available for Android.

Releasing an office productivity suite for Android would be a complicated move for Microsoft, because it would be facilitating enterprise of a product that competes with Windows Phone, which has struggled to carve a market share out of Android or iOS’ user bases.

Warren also implied that the experience for existing users would not be interrupted, though left open the possibility that the service would be integrated with the main Google productivity suite tools at some point. The Quickoffice team will join the Google Apps team, not Google Plus.

“Quickoffice has a strong base of users, and we look forward to supporting them while we work on an even more seamless, intuitive and integrated experience,” he wrote.

Quickoffice is currently available for iOS, Android, and Symbian – but not Windows Phone. The acquisition is one of two high-profile purchases Google made this week: It emerged earlier that they had bought up web chat client Meebo for around $100 million.

Images via Quickoffice/Google