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When search giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) launched its now-ubiquitous Google Docs cloud-based productivity suite way back in 2006, it was a clear shot at one of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) biggest cash cows, the Microsoft Office bundle that had long been a software mainstay for workers.
With the precipitous rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, particularly within the enterprise as "bring your own device," or BYOD, policies pop up throughout corporate IT departments, much of that focus is shifting toward keeping workers productive while on the go.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) responded by bringing its iWork suite of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to iOS last year, yet the market still wanted more despite its compatibility with Microsoft's formats. iWork for iOS plays nicely with Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations through import and export functions, but there's still a large chunk of the market that wants to be able to interface with existing formats more natively, taking out an extra step.
That provided an opportunity for a small start-up called Quickoffice to step up and address that demand. There are other offerings like DataViz's Documents To Go, but Quickoffice boasts higher ratings among users. Google just announced that it has acquired the small company and will be joining Big G's Apps team.
Financial terms weren't disclosed, but this move is continued evidence of Google's unparalleled moat-building prowess. Make an acquisition, then make the offering free, and bundle it in with Google's plethora of other services. It's not hard to imagine Google packaging a free productivity suite into Android phones and tablets.
Perhaps more importantly, Microsoft is widely expected to release a version of Office for the iPad later this year, after similar rumors fizzled last year. The New York Times is separately confirming the existence of such a project, according to its sources, although the timeframe remains up in the air. Needless to say, Microsoft will release Office for its tablet-bound Windows 8, so whipping up an iPad or iOS-friendly version isn't much of a stretch there.
With the Quickoffice acquisition, Google is further cranking up the mobile productivity suite heat on Mr. Softy.
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