Google is reportedly looking to buy a Korean company that's known as a Microsoft Office clone.
The Google team that handled the recent purchase of YouTube has met twice this month with representatives of ThinkFree Corp, according to Jong-jin Baek, the president of ThinkFree's parent company, Haansoft.
Three things are notable here:
1. If true, Google would be adding to its productivity software portfolio, which already includes Writely, a Web spreadsheet (Google Doc & Spreadsheets) and JotSpot, neither of which are serious competitors to Microsoft Office. ThinkFree would be a major hedge, or bring more direct confrontation with Microsoft. First, Google buys Writely, then creates spreadsheets and then buys Jotspot, which was supposed to be the foundation for a Google Office. ThinkFree is a much more polished product, and touts its compatibility with Microsoft Office. Talk about spreading your office software bets.
2. ThinkFree may be the only company on the planet reluctant to sell to Google. Hello? A stock price worth $481 translated into won. Ka-ching.
3. Are Google's existing office software pieces too difficult to integrate? Perhaps tying Google's acquired office parts into a suite is hard to pull off. More likely, if the story is true, Google has formally decided to take on Microsoft on its own turf and is directing its other Office-like products and audiences that don't need industrial strength productivity tools. If that's the case it would make some sense if Google dropped some stock on ThinkFree. It's probably more palatable to buy a company that blatantly mimics Microsoft Office instead of building a copycat suite from scratch.
And there's no denying that ThinkFree is a well endowed copycat. See this gallery. Those icons look familiar eh?