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How iWork.com can beat Google docs at its own game

One of the biggest drawbacks of Google docs is that you can't edit them on the iPhone or iPad. If Apple allowed users to edit online docs and spreadsheets from its mobile devices it would leapfrog Google's functionality overnight.

http://www.apple.com/iwork/iwork-dot-com/news/assets_c/2010/02/iphone_new_signin_022610-thumb-120x209.pngThere's no love lost between Apple and Adobe these days, this much we know.

But Apple's also soured on Google ever since it dove into the mobile phone market with its Android OS and began stealing market share and posing a serious threat to Apple's golden goose -- the iPhone.

Here's one way that Apple can beat Google at its own game: by improving iWork.com and making it more functional that Google docs. Notice that I didn't say better, I said more functional.

There's no denying that Google docs is an incredibly useful tool, it is. But its got one major flaw: it's read only on mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPod and iPad. In other words you can read your Google docs on the iPhone but you can't edit them. In fact I don't know of any mobile platform that allows editing of Google docs. To do so you need a desktop OS and browser, which is insane.

So here's the recipe: make iWork.com the ultimate Web 2.0 word processor and spreadsheet with document editing on Apple's iDevices. If Apple wanted to be really clever it could require an iPhone/iPod/iPad to edit iWork.com docs and banish Android/Blackberry/Symbian/Palm/Kin users to read-only land.

Now let me be clear, I don't want mobile doc editing to require a $99/year MobileMe subscription or anything crazy like that. Nor do I want it to require a $10 copy of the Pages or Numbers app to edit (it kinda does that on the iPad now). I just want sweet, sweet online document editing in Mobile Safari. Capice?

I'm also a realist and know that building an online word processor and spreadsheet isn't trivial (Google had to acquire them, after all), but it can be done.

Apple should use some of its massive $38 billion warchest (or just some of the money in between Steve Jobs' couch cushions) to build a better Google docs, before Google does.