What do you get when you cross social media with word processing? A collaborative app called Quip -- a start-up company that's going for Microsoft Office's jugular.
Founded in July by former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, who worked with him at Google, Quip is pushing out what it calls a "modern" word processor that lets you create documents on any device. Quip's interface combines documents and messages into a single chat-like thread of updates that aim to drive collaboration. It works with Android, iOS 7 and on the desktop. So far, Windows Phone 8 is not part of the picture.
"Quip launched a little over three months ago, and we're excited by the great response we've seen so far," Taylor said. "People love Quip's unique collaboration features, particularly on the iPad and iPhone, creating hundreds of thousands of mobile documents and millions of messages. Fifty percent of the people who use Quip have used it on an iPad, and 40 percent use it on multiple devices."
Taylor points to several business, education and media groups that are already using Quip. For example, Trinity Valley School uses the mobile word processor to coordinate among faculty, and recently deployed the product for a collaborative creative writing assignment on students' iPads.
Meanwhile, Colorado Hazard Control, a hazardous material abatement company, uses Quip to communicate daily and as a central hub for company documents. SS/FW, a fashion start-up, uses Quip to manage its distributed team across continents. And Pop-Up Magazine adopted Quip and used it to plan its last issue.
"Despite the diversity of these teams, we've seen a common pattern of adoption from our early customers: People generally start using Quip to manage their own documents across their tablet, phone, and desktop. Then, they share a document with someone and discover Quip's real-time collaboration," Taylor said. "Eventually, they share more broadly with their team at work to use Quip for a project. That project spills over into other projects, and Quip ends up becoming an integral tool at their company."
Too Little, Too Late?
Quip lets you create documents or bring in existing documents from Microsoft Word, Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote. When imported, the document is automatically converted to a Quip file. We asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, for his take on Quip. He told us there are already a number of apps on the market that allow consumers to open Office documents.
"The collaboration typically on a mobile device is done through e-mail or one of the mobile device's core features," Enderle said. "It's not going to be easy to sell this because people recognize they have a lot of choices. As a result they haven't been feeling the need for something like this. So to stand out, this is going to carry a relatively high marketing requirement."