Found this blog by Jennifer Rice, a brand/marketing strategist.  Her recent article “Half-assed or future threat” take a poke of some of the negative reviews of Google’s Spreadsheets application.

I agree with her analysis of the Google business model.   Create products that appeal to 80% of users and to reduce negative press if it fails; release it as beta.  Her analysis was in response to articles criticising “Google Spreadsheets” as being brain dead.  I happen to like Google Spreadsheets.  It has just the right amount of functionality for me.  I do not need nor do I use charts and pivot tables and the like.  I do not know too many people who do.  I think Spreadsheets is aimed at the majority of people like myself who use Excel for tracking personal budgets etc.

I also use Google’s Writely, Calendar and Gmail.  These applications satisfy most of my needs and I expect the needs of most people.

According to Jennifer, the principles for Google’s success are:

  1. Many products are too complex for a lot of people (domestically and internationally.)
  2. People don’t like to pay for what they don’t use.
  3. Many would be willing to pay less for a niche product with less functionality.
  4. Unserved and over-served markets can often be larger than established markets served by incumbents.
  5. Industry disruption happens with innovators create simple, low-cost options that are initially scoffed at by established markets.

She then draws parallels to Google and the Japanese automakers of the 1970s.