Bret Taylor got the idea for a mobile-first word processor back when he was the CTO at Facebook, and launched the result, Quip, last summer. But that was before Microsoft really got into the game with a full-featured, touch-first version of Office for the iPad. So does that eliminate the need for products like Quip?
Not at all — the startup says it hasn’t seen any effect on demand at all. “It reflects the fact that people are less interested in typesetting words on a piece of 8.5 by 11 paper,” Taylor told CITEworld. “They did quite a good job on the software, it’s quite well crafted in my opinion. But it doesn’t change collaboration. You can’t have two people edit the same thing at the same time, you still have to go to email to edit anything. They brought PC software to a tablet but didn’t solve the fundamental problem people wanted to solve, which is more effective communications and collaboration.”
That’s the whole design principle behind Quip — it’s not just a word processor, it’s a new way of working with documents that takes full advantage of the way people work with mobile devices.
For example, explains Taylor, “When you share a Quip document, the first time they open it, you get a push notification on your phone.” Then you can open the same document and comment on it with them in real time; the comment stream appears in the left hand side of the app, right next to the document itself. “It’s like walked to the person’s desk and walked through it with them, you’re reading with them, they’re asking question. It changes dynamic. It’s much more informal.”
Taylor says that a lot of early Quip users have said it’s “faster” than using other word processors. “Not faster performance in a technical sense, but because they can expect a response immediately.”