I’ve told this story a few times the last couple of days, so figured I should write it down.
I will get a lot of flak for this, but I think that Google Docs is not very good.
I think it’s amazing that it works at all. But I don’t think it’s best in class for anything. Collaboration is thin. Mobile is not very good at all. And in my experience, the artifacts that get created from it are just not very good on an aesthetic level.
For document creation, I find Quip to be significantly better, for example, for multi-player, multi-screen, realtime collaboration. It works so well in groups and across devices — it’s just not even close. [disclaimer: we are an investor in Quip.] Slack is clearly best-in-class as well, and is changing the way we collaborate, too.
I look at GDocs and what I see is something amazing — something that broke the stranglehold of Microsoft Office — but not something that is very usable. I think mostly that’s because it came of age in the Web Era, before we really understood how mobile & multi-screen would come to fit into our lives.
So I think of GDocs as a dancing bear. When you see it, you say, “Holy shit! That is a goddamned dancing bear.” That they got it working on the web at all is a bit of a miracle. But when you try to let go of that initial reaction, you end up realizing that the dancing bear’s moves aren’t all that good. He’s a little clumsy, really. And not great at the Tango at all. But: that bear can dance!
Anyway, I know this won’t be a commonly held view, but I look at GDocs and see very clearly a transitional product, not one that will hold up well for the ages.
Lots of opportunity here.