Frank Barnako

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Slowly, but surely, we are moving everything to the Net. We'll all benefit by this. Who will be the corporate winners will not be known for a long time.

In the meantime, it sure is fun to observe this transition.

I haven’t seen Google's online spreadsheet, but I just read Forbes' summary of what Rick Sherlund at GS said about it. His comments seem about as idiotic as yours, Barnako.

According to Rick, the Google spreadsheet is “focused more on consumer users than office users.” What share of the spreadsheet market do you think consumer users make up as opposed to office users? Furthermore, what does it say about the level of functionality of the Google spreadsheet that it is focused on consumer users? My 7th grade son is a one of these consumer users who uses Excel now and might use the online Google spreadsheet. Yes, perhaps Google spreadsheet’s functionality will satisfy his simple needs. But, will it satisfy the needs of the guy in accounting?

Rick also notes that “This market [consumer users] is willing to accept advertising and give up management and control of its documents to the online vendor." This market is also willing to allow their computers to be infected by viruses and spyware. I recently finished a consulting engagement for a major bank. They use Excel extensively. These banking users definitely will NOT give up control of their documents to an online vendor. Heck, they won't even give up control of their documents to the bank's IT department.

As for advertising, isn’t looking at it by definition a distraction from doing one’s work? Are employers going to allow their employees to use a piece of software for their work that by definition is going to distract them from their work??? Get this through your thick skull. The way in which Google will generate revenue from its online services is by displaying ads with them that users will click on. No click throughs, no revenue for Google. But, no manager in his right mind is going to allow his workers to be bombarded by advertising everytime they use the spreadsheet.

Another thing you overlook is that an online spreadsheet presupposes an internet connection. I would hate to be that poor sucker who can't access the spreadsheet the boss wants by 5 PM because his Comcast cable modem connection is down.

Finally, there is the issue of security. If I am a bank's customer, do I feel comfortable if the bank's personnel are using an online spreadsheet to examine my account data? Do I feel comfortable that my data is being passed over the internet? Do I feel comfortable that my data is being stored by Google? Customers won't care whether encryption and digital signatures are being used up the wazoo. If they find out their bank is shipping their personal data back and forth acroos the internet, they are going to find a new bank.

It simply amazes me that if anyone at Google so much as farts, it is considered a major product announcement and a new threat to Microsoft.

What a load of crap. Google has decided to compete with Microsoft in applications software, and Microsoft has decided to compete with Google for online advertising.

Funny thing is neither is competing based on core competency!

MSN is a wannabe in Search and Google doesn't even register in the applications verticle. AND THIS WILL NOT CHANGE WITHOUT HUGE AMOUNTS OF INVESTED CASH.

Even if it does, what will be gained? Will search ever be a "killer-app" for Microsoft? Can a web-based spreadsheet ever be a market disruptive force for Google?

No and No.

The moral: War is wasteful. Sell Sell Sell. And maybe buy Sun, Novell, Oracle, and Apple. If those 4 merge the tech sector may become interesting again.

Google is getting desperate in its hunt for fringe audiences. Yeah, I use it---3 or 4 times a day for academic and public policy research. I have never---never---clicked through to an advertiser. In fact, with the exception of scholarly journal houses, I have never seen an advertiser on Google. And I would no more dream of running my spreadsheet files on the Web than I would writing my papers on the Web for everyone to steal. As for cooperative spreadsheets, I work with organization mailing lists, too, all created in Excel files and all on hard drives (backed up on CDs or flash drives). The organizations are very wary of releasing these critters to anyone--so you think they are going to create them on something other than their own Web site, and with firewalls and multiple passwords? You gotta' be kidding. And Google, Microsoft, and anyone else contemplating this venture have to be smoking controlled substances to think there's a major expansion of business via this route. The audiences are peripheral, at best. But there's nothing like phony hoopla to punch a stock up 10-15 bucks, is there?

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