Smartphones – what’s the one thing everyone rushed to get onto the devices? The ability to look at and edit files from Microsoft Office. First out the blocks was the Quickoffice team. Now bundled on handsets from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Panasonic, to name but three, Quickoffice is an established player. I sat down with Craig Senick to find out more about Quickoffice. But firstly, how did Craig get into this game?
"I have a long history in the telecom space and enterprise/business sales. I’ve worked in a variety of sales, channel development, market planning and business development roles. So the breadth of experience has served me well in this market." This would be the small team that was initially behind Quickoffice? "Yes. As with many mobile software companies, Quickoffice had its genesis with the original founder writing code in his spare time. We grew to a handful of people and were known at the time as Cutting Edge Software. Cutting Edge was sold to Mobility Electronics and the founder moved on to bigger and better things. Seeking strategic assets, Mobility was approached by Mobile Digital Media expressing their interest in acquiring the software group and adding Quickoffice to its portfolio of high quality, branded mobile software solutions."
So you’ve been passed around a lot of companies then? Craig laughs, "yes." And the one advantage in all of this? The same URL… www.quickoffice.com. Which smart cookie made sure you kept a hold of that? "As it is the name of the core product and now the company, it was important to keep the namesake brand for our users and is a great URL property. Ironically, until now the name of the parent company has always been different than the product and we have fortunately always maintained a strong focus on our brand and customers. Quickoffice describes our product perfectly. The ability to quickly review and edit your office files on your mobile."
All About Quickoffice
Time to do the softball questions. What's the goal of Quickoffice? Craig relaxes a bit here. "The goal of Quickoffice is to allow Mobile Business Professionals to take their office with them on the mobile phone and facilitate document management on their mobiles." As simple as that? "Does it need to be any more complicated?"
Of course Quickoffice isn’t limited to Symbian. It currently runs on Palm OS and Symbian OS (S60 and UIQ). "The software requires a robust operating system to operate effectively and provide an optimal viewing and editing experience," explains Craig. How easy was it to decide on the move to support Symbian as a platform after Palm? "It was really quite easy. Symbian was expected to dominate the smartphone market by the end of the decade and was a C++ software language set. Thus, the porting between the platforms was challenging, but doable. Over the last couple of years, we have designed and developed an entirely new architecture based on 10 years of developing mobile office applications." Codewise, is there a lot of cross-over between the products? Is development shared, is there any commonality? "We share quite a bit between platforms, mostly at the core levels. As you know, Quickoffice is a UI intensive application that requires significant usability testing and interface work with our major partners."
Okay, the freebies are over. We can't not mention Documents to Go. The two products fill a similar niche, on both Palm OS and now Symbian OS. What does Quickoffice do better than Documents to Go?
It looks like Craig might have answered this once or twice before! "Quickoffice has been designed for our three customer segments: OEM device manufacturers, network operators, and end users. The differentiation of the products will become clearer as new versions of Quickoffice come to the market. We have developed Quickoffice for Palm OS, Series 60, and UIQ and have many OEM bundles. Most network operators have Quickoffice on several phones in their portfolio. Our competitor has focused mostly on selling version upgrades through their web site."
"In a product feature comparison, Quickoffice provides better file management with a single comprehensive solution rather than three separate applications. Quickoffice also provides editing and saving of PowerPoint which is important because Quickoffice has the unique ability to present directly from the phone. "
Are there areas where you feel Documents to Go outperforms you? "Clearly, they have focused on Palm OS development and marketing. As a business process, they have developed a marketing system for registering palmOne customers and marketing version upgrades through email campaigns and their web site. In product comparisons, we have different feature sets. We discussed some of our advantages above. I am sure they would point to in-line images in Word files as a key advantage."
Other Operating Systems and Handsets
Of course, being competitors in different markets doesn’t mean the playing fields are level on varying operating systems. On Palm OS, Documents to Go was the clear leader when you started. Now on Symbian you’re perhaps the leader and Documents to Go is playing catch up. Any thoughts on that?
"Actually, Quicksheet was one of the first commercial applications for the Palm. Quickoffice was the first editable office suite on the Palm OS and was named Best Office Suite for 4 years in a row by Handheld Computing." Yes, I blushed here, but Craig continues. "We decided to focus on Symbian OS rather than Palm OS due to the market potential. This decision has provided us with a 3 year head start and a dominating market position within Symbian."
Would you say getting on and staying on the handsets is a large part of the business plan going forward, or are individual sales through Handango more important? "We see three important channels: handset manufacturers, network operators, and consolidators (e.g. Handango). The end users are key to our overall strategy. Designing elegant software solutions that make their lives easier and more functional is a key element to our business. Without the consumer, we wouldn’t be where we are today." So how would a P910 user update the supplied version of Quickoffice? "We have built the software so that it is upgradeable. Even if your P910 came with Quickoffice in ROM, you can upgrade to the latest version. For those interested, the latest software can be purchased from www.quickoffice.com, and several other web sites."
Finally, where does Quickoffice go from here? Do you solidify the product, add new features, or something else?
"All the above! It is important to create an experience where the user wants to use your software over and over again. Thus, product quality, features, functionality and performance will continue to be at the forefront of our future. We go back to our vision of … "taking your office with you on your mobile". Phones are ubiquitous and the growth rate doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon. The future is bright for mobility and we are excited about the future of Quickoffice."
Craig, thanks for your time.