Quip, the mobile-first iOS and Android word processing app, spent many months in stealth mode as its creators, Bret Taylor (ex-Facebook CTO) and Kevin Gibbs (father of Google Apps Engine) built and polished the app for a debut at the end of July. But when it’s come to international expansion, the developers have wasted little time. Today, Quip is announcing its first moves into international markets, specifically Europe, with native language support extended to French, German, Italian and Spanish. Taylor tells TechCrunch that they expect to add several more languages, with a specific focus on Chinese, “as quickly as possible.” (Update: it’s live now.) The markets where mobile is rapidly becoming the primary platform for people to go online are a key target for Quip.
(As background, for those who are not familiar with Quip, Josh gives a great overview and review of it here. The essence is that this is an app bucks against the literal and figurative impulse for desktop virtualization on mobile devices, and instead rethinks how phones and tablets can be used better than computers with keyboards to create, edit and collaborate on texts. That means online and offline synchronization; and a lot more interactivity, with the ability to turn notes into lists and eventually to send push notifications to users for specific document alerts.)
Somewhat uniquely in a market that seems to dictate a dichotomy in app development, Quip is aimed at both enterprises and consumers, with consumer usage free and $12 per user per month for businesses. It is available as a desktop app, an iOS app and (in preview) as an Android app.
On the occasion of the international debut, I took the opportunity to ask Taylor a little bit about how the first three weeks of the product launch has been, and about what the company’s future plans will be.
He says that the consumer aspect of the business model may not drive revenues in the way that the enterprise channel does, but what it does it provide a “feedback loop”. “What we are trying to do is have consumer product credibility with that feedback loop,” he told me. “We want it to feel like that and fast and simple not be bloated with features you don’t use.” And this, he says, goes directly into why Quip is targeting international users so quickly.
These are the markets where mobile is, perhaps, even more essential than it is in markets like the U.S., since in countries like China the smartphone or tablet is often the only device a consumer has to get online. Launching quickly in these markets is about getting responses from users in all the markets where it would like to grow, as early as possible, so that this can be used in product development. “We plan on localizing in a number of languages,” he told me.
Interestingly, this may see some changes in the product sooner rather than later. So far, Taylor says the pattern with Quip has been that people are using the desktop version to compose their documents, and then using smartphone or tablet devices to edit them. In markets where there may not be so many devices with keyboards, Quip may end up needing to make input on smaller and touchscreen devices significantly easier.
“So far what we’ve seen is that composition is still happening on laptops rather than other platforms,” he says. “Messaging is happening on phones. People will see and reach out on phones. Tablets are growing rapidly.”
He also notes that the most common requests so far are for more functionality to highlight and comment on parts of a document. “A lot of the people who are using and sending us feedback have asked about the mobile and collaboration features. The most common feature request is the ability to highlight and comment on parts of the document and also push notifications.”
One area that he believes will be especially interesting to see evolve is how people use the ability for offline support. For Quip users in developed markets, he says, “They like the idea of using Quip in an airplane for offline support. But in the developing world where internet connectivity can be very spotty, you can edit and use a document whenever you want; then when you can get online it gets synchronized. We still have a lot of learn to how it gets adopted.”