Google's making it clear these days it's got no problem killing off services -- services that, for one reason or another, no longer fit into the company's big-picture plan. More wood behind fewer arrows, as Larry Page puts it.
Given that stance and the ongoing killings that have accompanied it, the renewed life of one Google product is particularly perplexing. I'm talking about Quickoffice -- the office software Google bought last summer and revamped last week.
In case you didn't hear, Google announced a completely new Quickoffice app for Android and iOS. The app boasts a newly Google-ized design and better integration with Google Drive. It has a fancy new icon. And, unlike the Quickoffice of yore, it's free to download and use.
That's all fine and dandy -- hey, I'm certainly not going to turn down the offer of free Drive storage that accompanied the app's launch -- but the biggest question I'm left with is: Why, Google? Why?
As an office suite in general, Quickoffice is okay but nothing to write home about; there are certainly stronger options out there. The app's marquee feature from Google's perspective is the fact that it can edit native Microsoft Office documents. Google's own Google Docs office suite, in contrast, only lets you view native Office documents; it can import and convert them into its own format for editing but lacks that native editing ability.
Here's where things get really weird: Quickoffice has a similar limitation when it comes to Google Docs documents. The app can open and view files created in Docs but can't edit them -- and there's not even an option to convert.
So why the hell did Google put all the effort into revamping Quickoffice when the result is two partially functional and confusingly overlapping products? Wouldn't it make far more sense to kill off Quickoffice and integrate its functionality into Docs, thereby creating a single robust app that fits within Google's core services?
(Google has also slowly but surely been adding Quickoffice's capabilities into Chrome, by the way, giving users an in-browser app for viewing (and soon editing) native Office documents. There, too, it's not part of Docs but rather a standalone extension you have to install separately.)
One can't help but wonder what Google's end-game is here. I get that integrating a new product into an existing service isn't an overnight flip of a switch, but more than a year into the company's Quickoffice ownership, it certainly appears that Big G is putting a lot of resources into developing the thing as its own entity. For a company so focused on streamlining services and eliminating consumer confusion, that sure is a baffling move to make.
So come on, Google: End Quickoffice and bring your two office suites together already. We may not always agree with your product-axing decisions, but this one's a no-brainer: One fully-featured service is better than two partially equipped players.