How Microsoft Office 2010 will be locked out of my toolbag

Yong Ming Guang, CEO of Socialwok

I really like Office 10. Looks great, doesn’t it? Lots of new features. And it even works well on the web.

But it is doomed to be kept out of my toolbag.

I realized that when Yong Ming Guang, CEO of Socialwok, showed me his new collaborative toolset today.

How will Microsoft Office be locked out?

Mobile phones.

“But, Scoble, Microsoft Office has made a deal with Nokia.”

OK, name one geek in your circle that still uses a Nokia phone. I can’t and it doesn’t look like the new Nokias will get me anytime soon. Certainly not with Palm Pre phones selling for under $100 and Android phones coming on big time with developers that I talk with (you do note, don’t you, that Guang is holding an Android phone in the picture above).

So, why won’t Microsoft Office be able to ship on iPhone and Android and Palm Pre and Blackberry?

Well, they might be able to, but the versions they showed me so far are pretty heavyweight. IE, they load slow and on mobile phones that’s death. Google’s spreadsheet, on the other hand, is made for the mobile web and opens fast.

Also, Microsoft Office 10 isn’t shipping yet. You’ll notice that developers like Yong Ming Guang is showing off their systems now. What’s the chances that they’ll rip out the functionality they built using Google’s APIs and put in some unproven Microsoft APIs? Let’s just say it’s between 0 and 0.

“But, Scoble, it doesn’t matter, don’t you realize that everyone in the world is forced to use Microsoft Office anyway?”

That isn’t true and over the next five years is going to be less and less true.

If I asked at a conference five years ago, even an early adopter geek conference, how many people used Microsoft Office, lots of hands would go up.

Today? Very few hands go up whenever I ask that question.

By the way, what does SocialWok do? It is a new collaborative feed tool built around Google’s applications. Think about it as Facebook for your workgroup.

I thought it was lame the first minute, but after digging into it I’m pretty convinced that it, or something like it, will change how we work.

Why?

Because of mobile phones. Three years ago I used to carry my laptop everywhere. Now? I only carry my iPhone. It’s amazing how much work I can get done with it.

That will have a deep impact on the tools we choose for work.

And, I’m noticing even the geekiest geek in Silicon Valley is the same way. We’re switching our usage patterns away from desktop and laptop computers and toward our iPhones.

Why did Guang choose Google’s apps? Well, because of the atomicity of Google’s APIs. They can build a new kind of feed based on Google’s apps, which isn’t possible using Microsoft’s Office. Also, because 15 million people are using Google’s apps (according to Guang) he sees there’s a ready audience of people who would use his system today. Because Office 10 isn’t out yet, he won’t bet his business around an audience that might show up “someday.”

Also, Google has provided Socialwok with the infrastructure so he can build his company without spending much, if any, money (SocialWok is built on top of Google’s App Engine and could be easily moved over to other cloud-based infrastructures like Rackspace’s Cloud or Amazon’s Cloud if needed)

That has deep impact on the choices that developers like SocialWok are making.

Microsoft Office just isn’t part of this new world. That should scare the hell out of Steve Ballmer. No wonder why he gets so mad at people who bring iPhones to work there!