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Enterprises gain Google Docs offline support via Quickoffice

Google acquired the mobile productivity application Quickoffice to provide Google Docs offline capabilities for iOS and Android mobile devices.

With its recent purchase of Quickoffice, Google can offer enterprises Google Docs offline and native clients for mobile devices, which Microsoft has yet to provide for Office.

The combination of Google Docs and Quickoffice gives customers more flexibility and gives Google a competitive edge against Microsoft Office, industry watchers said. Microsoft won’t offer an Office application suite until the company releases Windows 8 in the fall. Even then, Office 15 for iOS and Android won’t be available until next year.

“This isn’t merely a mobile play, it’s a Microsoft Office play,” said Benjamin Robbins, a principal at Seattle-based enterprise mobility and technology solutions provider, Palador Inc.

In 2008, Google Docs offline capabilities were available with the browser extension, Gears. But in 2010, Google dropped Gears in favor of HTML5, which made the productivity suite faster and afforded it more features, but at the expense of offline support.

With Quickoffice apps for Android and iOS, users can create, edit and view Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on their mobile devices. This allows Google to provide offline document editing again, which some enterprise customers can’t live without.

“Until you get to a state where online capable is 99.99% guaranteed, especially in an enterprise context, offline will always be necessary,” Robbins said.

Still, some IT pros found it ironic that Google, a cloud company, bought an application company for offline, native applications.

“It’s puzzling, bizarre and a step backwards,” said Bob Egan, founder of the Sepharim Group, an enterprise mobility consulting firm based in Cape Cod, Mass.

Google Docs still lacks enterprise features

While Google Docs offline support is nice, Google must advance its mobile productivity tools to address more pressing shortcomings, said Egan.

One problem with Google Docs is provisioning and de-provisioning employees, Egan said. He noted several anecdotal examples of an employee leaving a company and still having access to email and documents weeks or months after their last day.

“The cost of risk management [for Google Docs] is getting out of control,” and “giving IT a headache,” he said.

Some expect the Quickoffice acquisition will lead to more features in Google Docs that Microsoft Office customers would want, such as “track changes and other features missing" from Google Docs now, said Philippe Winthrop, managing director of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation, a think tank based in Boston, Mass.

Sanofi Pharmaceutical has an enterprise license for Quickoffice on the iPad.  The company uses Quickoffice because it has a good set of editing features plus format compatibility with Microsoft Office on desktops and laptops, said Brian Katz, director of mobility for the Paris-based company.

Employees at Sanofi use Google Docs informally for work, but there hasn’t been huge adoption because Office is available, Katz said.

Quickoffice says its software is installed on more than 300 million mobile devices, which Google alluded to as being a primary reason for the acquisition.

A one-time Quickoffice license costs $14.99 for both Android and iOS. There is also a free version of the app for viewing documents, and Quickoffice offers an enterprise licensing agreement for 50 or more users.

Google has not revealed its pricing plans for Quickoffice, which is just one of several recent acquisitions: On Monday, Google acquired messaging firm Meebo. Last week, Google went live with updates to Google+ that incorporated last September’s Zagat acquisition, and last month, Google officially closed its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility.

Let us know what you think about the story; email James Furbush or follow @JamesFurbush  on Twitter; like on Facebook

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What is your interest level in Google Docs for your enterprise?
Google Docs all the way!
I use Docs now for nearly everything. Once Docs is fully operational offline, I will switch entirely. Until then, I'm FORCED to use Office.
we already use google docs in our enterprise.
ms office is still very powerful!!!!!!!!
This is a HUGE plus for our mobile workforce.
Still clealry a consumer play. Google does not show any tendency to understanding real business applications. They do a great job for the 16 to 20 year olds that lack business sophistication up and until they need to run a real business. Just like Zuck...eventually you have to grwo up and use real tools.
We use it now along with MS Office and Libre Office. Our team is spread out across the country with a home office. In our day-to-day work, we tend to use MS and Libre. GDocs is used sharing certain documents and meeting notes. Even at the home office, gdocs is used this way.
We are already in!
Will still use LibreOffice. Google Docs is only a fallback for times when an OpenDocument editor is not otherwise available.
We used google docs in a limited trial with a set of shared documents. Too many errors and no real support. Inconsistent user experience between different computers running the same browser. It does not seem enterprise ready.
We have been using Google Docs for the enterprise for several years now and love it, especially the online, real-time collaboration functionality facilitated by both the native Google Apps and MS Office via Google Cloud Connect. Google Apps is a great suite of products that is tightly integrated with messaging, calendar, contacts, and the other Google products we are using.
We are already using GoogleDocs in the Enterprise for a majority of our collaborative work.

Complicated spreadsheets are still only handled using Excel.

Publish quality documents have migrated away from MS-Word to Adobe products instead.
we use lotus symphony
Provisioning is still our biggest issue.
Security is still the main issue, how can you gain a level of comfort and transparency.
Google docks just doesn't currently allow for good user control and even with the addition of an off line ability is still far short of MS Office
I think the switching cost at the moment is still too high for the average enterprise. Besides that the capabilities of MS Office far outweighs that of G Docs. Until there is a viable alternative things will be @ status quo.
right now we need a mature and powerhouse office apps, especially Excel
We evaluated google docs at the beginning of 2011 at that time google docs did not cater for hosting business applications such as finance HR
would like the option on my mobile device but not in a position to decide what the enterprise IT folks will let us do...
Already use Google docs and it is a great tool for MSP operations
We will evaluate
We use it in-house now
This is good news. This will definitely an interesting feature and development for Google Docs.
I am using Linux and will check it for this platform
some basic features like different header for first page and summary are missing