Article updated 11/4/08.
There's much to admire in RIM's native software set for BlackBerry phones, but for many, the built-in document viewer isn't one of them. Word documents on most models open in a plain text monotone; serviceable, but without the benefit of formatting or the capability to edit the text.
On Monday, Quickoffice released an updated solution for business users and prosumers angling for a more familiar desktop read and the capability to edit attached documents. In addition to support for the usual Microsoft documents--Word, Excel, PowerPoint--eOffice 4.5 ($29.95 after a free 7-day trial) supports Google Docs and Spreadsheets. For companies that have adopted Google's collaboration tools, this feature could indeed provide a valuable way for employees to update their feedback--if their BlackBerry runs on platform 4.5.
The newer models do (the anticipated BlackBerry Bold will run on 4.6), but in the U.S. at least, carriers have been slower in releasing the software upgrade to existing customers whose BlackBerrys run on older software. Eventually, everyone will be approved for version 4.5, but when they get it, will they still want eOffice? Key Quickoffice competitor DataViz confirms that Documents To Go Standard Edition, a reader and basic editor, will come bundled with the carriers' 4.5 update.
The question, then, will be if BlackBerry owners seeking more advanced editing capabilities will upgrade from the free standard edition of Documents To Go to the premium edition, or if they'll give eOffice a try. While the DataViz Web site charts differences between the standard and premium builds, support for Google documents isn't listed among them. That could prove to be eOffice's edge.