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Anatomy Of Success: Quip Conquers The Small Screen

Mobile devices and tablets have rapidly become the primary site where people interact with Internet services. This shift away from PCs has created design headaches and opportunities. The small screen favors simplicity, which presents challenges when users want to continue doing things that they’ve grown accustomed to doing on the more spacious desktop. Witness the drama unfold through a familiar but evolving action: word processing.



While the competition to become the go-to tool for workplace collaboration or productivity has been tremendous, there’s been barely a stir in the word processing space. Document sharing tools abound, but no one has staked their claim to enhancing word processing on the small screen. Such was the case anyway, until the arrival of Quip.


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Quip is arguably the first mobile-focused word processor. It allows users to create documents using their instrument of choice – phone, tablet, desktop – and automatically formats documents to fit each screen. As the company describes itself, “Quip is built for the way people work today – across a variety of devices and distributed around the world.” If you haven’t heard of Quip already, say hello to what may very well become the mobile era’s version of Microsoft and Microsoft Word.


Quip was built taking into account the unique qualities of phones and tablets, and with the understanding that the chief concern of the small screen isn’t being conducive to creating 8½ by 11 documents. Instead, Quip is focused on establishing an elegant mobile interface. Yes, some habits will need to be adjusted. The team has been pressed to come up with the equivalent of keyboard shortcuts for example. However, Quip shrewdly makes issues of typesetting secondary concerns (though word processing is the bedrock of the product).




Easy document sharing allows for quick exchange of to-do lists or shopping lists, and more. Users may import documents from a variety of sources – Word, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote, to name a few – and edit seamlessly.


Quip excels at facilitating in-app, real-time collaboration. Every document has a chat thread for instant messaging. Team members can work offline as well, and documents sync when they return online (a clever aid to people working as they commute). A sharp notification system minimizes clutter and noise.




A byproduct of serving as a mobile-friendly word processor is that Quip also becomes a productivity and collaboration tool. A Quip Business account runs $12 per month. Learn more about this version of Quip here.


Quip is co-founded by former Google employees Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs. Taylor helped build Google Maps then went on to start FriendFeed, which was acquired by Facebook. He served as Facebook’s CTO until 2012. Gibbs was the founding tech lad behind Google App Engine and created Google Suggest, the later of which offers interactive search suggestions as users type. The accomplished duo at the helm no doubt helped Quip raise $15 million in Series A funding. It would also come as no surprise if these small screen visionaries and Quip prove to grow into household names.


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Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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