November 27, 2008

Over on SmartDisorganized I've been tracking and playing with spreadsheets, particularly the online variety. I'm becoming increasingly impressed by the potential of online spreadsheets as containers for mashups and widgets. In particular EditGrid which comes with embeddable queries to Amazon and Ebay "out of the box" seems to be pointing in a very interesting direction.

Whereas the online equivalents of Word or PowerPoint are more or less dead-ends, as I've said before spreadsheets (in particular Excel) are grossly underexploited powertools, not to mention the repositories of most of the world's semi-structured data.

I've also said that Excel is so good that this is all Microsoft's market to lose if they screw up the transition to a new kind of spreadsheet : the spreadsheet as front-end / dashboard to all the enterprise's information streams. A flexible mashup builder which can be configured by a reasonably smart / well trained user or the IT department or an integrator.

We are a hairsbreadth away from the socialized spreadsheet fulfilling this destiny. But I'm waiting to see who's going to give it to us. Will Microsoft succeed in reinventing Excel? Will Google pump up the capabilities of their spreadsheet to compete? Will an outsider with a technically superior web-native sheet (like EditGrid) manage to sneak in-front of both?
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