Battling For Productivity
There is no shortage of competitive battles in UC. But there are also looming battles on the periphery. In this case, if you like to watch a good fight, get a good seat for the upcoming Google and Microsoft battle over office productivity suites.
Microsoft Office is one of Microsoft’s finest achievements. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint define the modern enterprise workspace. There have been plenty of competitors, but none have really made a dent – that is until Google Apps came along. Google Docs is pretty limited when compared to Office, but for many it is good enough. Google Apps has noteworthy penetration in SMB, education, and government.
Google’s naming conventions are bit confusing. Google Docs refers to the office productivity software associated with its free Gmail service as well as its commercial suite known as Google Apps. Microsoft responded to Docs with Office 365, and recently even released an iOS app for it.
Google Docs is possible because of the achievements in Internet bandwidth and capabilities. It is not software, but applications that run in the browser. Limitations include a requirement to be online, limited compatibility with Microsoft Office, only basic functionality, and no mobile support. Yet it is free to cheap, and its multi-user collaboration is phenomenal.
Google and Microsoft are battling on several fronts including search, mobile, productivity suites, email services, browsers, and even operating systems. Recently, each firm has been provoking the other in several actions aimed specifically to curtail or harm each other’s products and services. At the recent Google IO conference, CEO Larry Page specifically faulted Microsoft for making things so negative.
Google is a competitor unlike anything Microsoft has faced because its revenue model allows it to compete with what’s perceived as free products. Microsoft has to make a product so much better that people will actually pay for it. Google is also attracting many of Microsoft’s allies – partly due to the popularity of Google Apps and partly due to Lync. For example, Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and Siemens Enterprise now offer integrations with Google Apps. Many of Microsoft’s long time hardware partners are now embracing Google solutions including Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP.
So what looms ahead? Quickoffice! Google acquired Quickoffice last year which enables users to read and edit Office documents on iPad, iPhone, and Android devices (better than currently available through Google Docs). Last February, Google hinted intent to port Quickoffice to Chrome. Google’s Sundar Pichai said a browser-based version capable of full editing of Office documents could be expected in three months.
Many assumed Quickoffice for Chrome would be launched at Google IO last month. Microsoft even jumped the gun with attack posts (here and here). Quickoffice for Chrome has not been launched yet. But when it does I expect many enterprise vendors, especially in UC, to embrace it. Prior to Lync, UC vendors touted integration with Office and Exchange, but now that’s akin to dancing with the enemy.
Things are changing very quickly. The shift from desktops to mobile devices has not been good for the desktop champs. PC makers like HP and Dell are being passed in relevance by Samsung and Apple. If Google goes for the jugular with a direct attack against Office, it won’t be alone.
Related: Google is Prepping a Sneak Attack on Microsoft Office.