Google Office for the Blackberry: Coming Soon?

In a recent post, I blogged:

Now picture this: A J2ME client application for Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

This is interesting on a number of levels:

  • It’s feasible! Google Docs & Spreadsheets is likely written in
    some variant of Java (J2*E) already, so paring it down to J2ME is (in
    principle) possible.

Alas, Google Docs & Spreadsheets (GD&S) isn’t based on some variant of J2*E.

It’s based on JavaScript. To see this, open a document or spreadsheet in GD&S and then look at the document source (“View \ Page Source” in Firefox) and/or the DOM (“Tools DOM Inspector” in Firefox). Or, try to open a document or spreadsheet in GD&S on your Blackberry. You’ll soon find out about the dependence on JavaScript.

More precisely, GD&S is based on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML). AJAX is behind the wonderful user experience afforded by most of Google’s offerings. (There’s an outstanding explanation of how AJAX achieves this experience available from Adaptive Path president and founder J. J. Garrett .) AJAX is a multi-tier platform or framework for developing and delivering Web-centric applications. (And many refer to it in the same breath as Web Services.)

In striking contrast, the GMail client for the Blackberry is a stand-alone Java application that executes within a J2ME container under the Blackberry operating environment.

gmail_berry.png

Clearly AJAX and J2ME are completely different environments/platforms.

Thus it would seem that Google has the options summarized by a two-dimensional platform versus motivity grid.

platform_motivity.png

On the vertical axis, platform ranges from self-contained to service-oriented.

Motivity is a bona fide word that is synonymous with locomotion (the power or ability to move). I intend here to coin a slightly different meaning, a juxtaposition of mobility and connectivity. More precisely, I propose to use motivity as a semi-quantitative measure of the degree of mobility relative to the degree of connectivity. As mobility increases, connectivity decreases, and motivity therefore increases. This is illustrated by the horizontal axis of the two-dimensional grid. It is also important to note that connectivity is itself a proxy for bandwidth and latency. More precisely, high connectivity is taken to imply high bandwidth, low latency connectivity.

Thus the options in taking GD&S to the Blackberry are:

  • Port GD&S to the Blackberry operating environment (i.e., develop a native J2ME client version of GD&S) – the lower-right quadrant of the 2D-grid

or

  • Port the client-side aspects of AJAX to the Blackberry operating environment (JavaScript and the AJAX engine) and interface this in real time with the server-side components – the upper-right quadrant of the 2D-grid

There is one other possibility that originates in the lower-left quadrant. GD&S could be written as a Java application. A pared down version could be relatively easily be made available for the J2ME-based Blackberry operating environment. (This was my naive suggestion that’s been revisited in this post.) In parallel, through use of the Google Web Toolkit (GWT), the same Java version of GD&S could be converted to AJAX as “… the GWT compiler converts your Java classes to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML.”

Thus a revised two-dimensional grid of the possibilities is shown below.

platform_motivity_gwt.png

Either way, it may be some time before Google Docs & Spreadsheets makes it to the Blackberry.

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5 responses to “Google Office for the Blackberry: Coming Soon?”

  1. James M Woods says :

    Hi Ian,

    Great post and recap about Jott. Since your interested in a similar solution here in canada there is one. Back in September we launched DictaBrain (soon to be renamed) which does basically the same thing with a few twists coming soon, best of all we’re canadian, not from microsoft and didnt take a million in funding to get to where we are now. We’re still in private alpha but given your interest I’d love to have you on board as an alpha tester. Drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.

    Cheers,

    James

  2. Kelli says :

    wow…I am eagerly awaiting a Blackberry version of google docs…where documents can be edited…woo hoo!! I’m way too exited about it…seriously…I am…

    Kelli

  3. Ian Mackissack says :

    I am also excited about this possibility.

    I volunteer for testing on my 8300 under Mexican Telcel service for debugging! LOL

    So far I’ve been able to run the yahoo msgr, google italk, Jivetalk(all inclusive), MSN Live msgr, OperaMini, Facebook, iskoot, OandaFX, etc. without much trouble 😉 I’ve had to gone thru some resets and re-configs to get rid of all the rest of apps out there that I’ve tried and have not worked, so testing another one is no issue, specially if it actually can be PRODUCTIVE!

    Saludos,
    Ian I. Mackissack

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