Many users consider online office applications as a replica of their offline counterparts. While the purpose of these applications is the same, their usage mode is significantly different.
The right analogy here is to compare offline office suites to traditional wired telephones and online office suites to mobile phones. The core function for both the devices is the same, but the mobility adds a new dimension to cell phones. Attaching a camera to your land line doesn’t make sense, but now that the phone is mobile and is available wherever you go, it makes perfect sense. Mobility adds this new dimension. Similarly there are other dimensions (like collaborative editing) which are unique to online applications. You’ll see some interesting use cases like this emerge which are traditionally not possible.
But then, lets be practical. Online office applications do have their limitations and they don’t yet offer whatever their offline counterparts offer today. That doesn’t mean they won’t get there. Its a matter of time. Online office suites are just 2 years old which probably can be compared to early versions of mobile phones. Over the next few years, you’ll see greater improvements. Going forward we might see similarities between adoption of online office suites and mobile phones where some users will solely depend on mobile phones, some users using both and some sticking with their wired line.
Document vs Web Document