Google has acquired Quickoffice, which makes QuickOffice Pro HD ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) one of the leading iPad office suites. At the very least, the acquisition will give iPad users a compelling alternative to iWork and other iOS suites.
In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Google Engineering Director Alan Warren said, “Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite.”
That’s interesting because, while Google Docs already works with “popular file formats”—i.e. Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—the process isn’t pretty: When you upload Office files to Google Docs in their native format, Google Docs converts them to its own formats before you can edit them; you may lose some document formatting in the process. And if you want to edit those Office documents on an iPad, you’ll have to make do with the mobile version of Google Documents, which is clumsy at best.
QuickOffice, on the other hand, works with Office docs without disruption. It preserves almost all formatting and other document characteristics in the round trip from Office on a Mac to the iPad and back. The suite has always worked nicely with Google Docs as well as Dropbox.
Put all that together, and Google has suddenly trumped all those rumors about Microsoft Office itself coming to the iPad. It also gives Google instant access to the 300 million devices that QuickOffice says it’s installed on. (The suite is available on Android, webOS and Symbian, as well as iOS.) The acquisition will also put the hurt on existing iOS clients for Google Docs such as Nikita Lutsenko’s GoDocs.
Finally, given that Google Docs is giving way to Google Drive, it’ll be interesting to see how QuickOffice’s technology will be incorporated into Google’s online editing tools, as well.