Google Docs crushes online rivals in race for users

Google's Google Docs software has cemented its position as the leading suite of online office applications, based on unique-visitors statistics according to a Web-audience research firm Compete.

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Google's Google Docs software has cemented its position as the leading suite of online office applications, based on unique-visitors statistics according to a Web-audience research firm Compete.

The Web site for the free, still-in-beta Google Docs suite picked up more than 1.4 million unique visitors in October, seven times more than it did in the same month last year, the first full month after the product was launched, in October 2006, according to Compete.

Becky Bitzenhofer, a Compete analyst, wrote in a blog posting, that a "user interface overhaul and subsequent intense marketing in June seems to have ignited traffic" to the Google Docs site.

Bitzenhofer also attributed some of Google's gains to Microsoft's release of Office 2007 earlier this year. The new version of Microsoft's market-leading desktop suite includes "a whole new interface that is unfamiliar, and potentially frustrating, to the veteran Office user," she wrote.

Google Docs includes a Word-style document editor and an Excel-like spreadsheet application. Both store documents online, enabling multiple users to edit them at the same time, though not collaboratively with the same real-time view.

Bitzenhofer wrote in her posting that she counted users as unique visitors if they simply viewed a document or spreadsheet, thus not requiring that they actually create or edit one.

Google announced a PowerPoint-like app called Presentation last spring and made it available as part of Google Docs in September. But Bitzenhofer didn't include Presentation in her count of visitors to the Google Docs site.

Compete later released a broader set of statistics to the Web 2.0 news site Read/Write Web comparing the Google Docs visitor count with those of Microsoft's Office Live service as well as online rivals such as ThinkFree, Zoho and Zimbra, which now is owned by Yahoo. Those numbers showed Google with a huge lead, commanding nearly 10 times the traffic of Office Live, its closest rival.

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