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Social Startups: Quip Redefines Work on Mobile, Touch-Screen Devices
Posted on March 20th 2014
Odds are you’re reading this article on a mobile device during a taxi ride, at the airport, from your hotel room, or somewhere out and about. Look around. Do you see other people mostly using iPads and phones, too? Most likely, laptops are few and far between—or nowhere to be found where you are in public.
Since the iPhone was launched in 2007, phones and tablets have become the norm for the way we interact with technology and one another.
Actually, smartphone sales have exceeded PC sales, and tablet sales are expected to surpass the entire PC market (portables and desktops combined) by 2015. Unfortunately, the software that we use to get work done has not evolved over the past 30 years. We still use the same metaphors, such as desktop and menu bar, along with the same work processes that we used when neon colors and leggings with oversized shirts were popular. While these 80s styles are making a comeback (surprisingly), workflow technology from that time really needs to go for good.
“Our goal as a company is to do what Microsoft Office did for the PC era, but for the era of phones and tablets,” says Molly Graham, head of business operations for the modern word processor, Quip, which launched in July 2013. “We want to define what productivity on a touch-screen device looks like and embrace the realities of the mobile era, including the fact that most people will carry two to three devices.”
Graham says Quip is significantly better than other products at four things:
- Collaboration: The company compares using Quip to sitting next to your coworker at the same table, writing on the same piece of paper.
- Mobility: Quip was designed from the ground up for working on multiple screen sizes, spotty Internet connections, and multiple platforms. “For other products, offline access is a feature—something you have to turn on or pay for, that may only work in some situations,” Graham says of the San Francisco-based app that was founded 2012. “For working offline is the fundamental core of our product.”
- Interactivity: You can turn a bulleted list into a checklist, transforming your meeting notes into an interactive, shared task list; link between other documents with @mention; and create a table of data that your team can edit and add to simultaneously in real time.
- Simplicity: The Quip interface has a minimal, elegant design so you can focus on writing.
“Quip is our perspective on how modern, mobile documents should work. We've re-thought everything—from the user interface to the underlying technology—to create the product that we want to use to get work done every day,” writes Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, the Quip co-founders who worked together at Google and have created, developed, and successfully exited products acquired by or made for Google and Facebook.
“Marketing, PR, and editorial teams have been early customers of Quip,” Graham says. This case study from Pop Up Magazine shows how they used Quip to plan their last issue.
Companies built on the PC environment are desperately trying to find their footing in this new and evolving world of tech, and whether they’ll land on a solid foundation and grow on it is still unknown. But just as people turned to the computer from typewriters for the way they made editing easier, for instance, they are taking to Quip instead of PCs for its revolutionary features that are relevant in today’s work environment.