Google to Microsoft: Wolf in sheep's clothing?

Google has a knack for launching (hoped for) category killer applications directly aimed at usurping existing market leaders’ positions via a reassuring “we’re not a competitive threat, we complement each other

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Google has a knack for launching (hoped for) category killer applications directly aimed at usurping existing market leaders’ positions with its reassuring “we’re not a competitive threat, we complement each other” mantra.

Matt Glotzbach, head of enterprise products at Google, on Google Apps for Your Domain vs. Microsoft Office:

The right way to view Writely and Google Spreadsheets, especially in the context of a larger business, isn't necessarily as a replacement for Word or Excel. They're the collaboration component of that.

On Google Checkout vs. eBay PayPal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said days before its launch:

Very important to know that it is targeted at advertisers, not at general consumers….Not like PayPal at all.

Who does Google think it is kidding?

Upon Google Checkout’s release Google’s key advertiser account, eBay, prohibited Google Checkout as “Payment Services not permitted” on eBay.

Microsoft does not welcome Google Apps for Your Domain as a new, collaborative neighbor in the “cloud.” Ray Ozzie was recruited by Microsoft to “Webify everything.”

April’s Fortune piece “Microsoft’s new brain” cited Ozzie on his strategic mission:

To intertwine Microsoft's entire product line - software for consumers, software for businesses, Xboxes, all of it - with the vast and ever-growing power of the Net.

Also cited, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer:

GATES fed up with Google being seen as the ‘thought leader’ of the Internet Age.

BALLMER We have the birthright to lead the pack. We've got more technology. We've got more experience.

Microsoft and Google complementing each other? Like the wolf complements the sheep.

Anil Dash’s “Google Apps doesn't compete with Microsoft Office” is thought provoking, but not convincing. Dash says “Feel free to poke someone in the eye if they say this version represents a competitor to Office.” Here goes, I hope my eyes are safe!

I will not parse the meaning of “this version,” but will debate the components of Dash’s argument.

Dash:

There are only 500 buyers of Office that Microsoft cares about…Those 500 buyers control hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Office revenues, and they're simply not going to use an ad-supported service that hosts their data on remote servers…Google Apps targets small businesses, where Microsoft doesn't generate nearly as much revenue due to passalong piracy.

Rebuttal:

Google is planning a premium, higher-performance paid offering which, presumably, would not include advertising. Moreover, while Fortune 500 CIO needs may influence Microsoft product development strategy, continuation of Microsoft’s worldwide ownership of the desktop PC still requires a perpetual consumer public relations strategy. Microsoft’s OEM distribution acquires customers; It is Microsoft consumer brand marketing, however, that enables consumer acceptance of its worldwide monopoly.

Microsoft Office Live presents a future opportunity for Microsoft to convert illegitimate, non-paying pirated users of its software applications to legitimate, non-paying ad-supported users of its software services. Perhaps we will see a Microsoft “Amnesty” program!

Dash:

Microsoft Office and Google Apps do different things.

Rebuttal:

The offerings do “different things,” for now. Both Google and Microsoft are working around the virtual clock on functionality to improve, enhance, add, overlap…

Dash:

System integrators have no incentive to recommend Google Apps…Given that Google's already offering payments for Pack, Picasa and AdSense as well, Apps is probably only a matter of time. But it's still unlikely any third party could make as much money recommending Apps as they do selling Microsoft Office services and the promise of an upsell to big-ticket items like Exchange servers.

Rebuttal:

Google famously, but non-transparently, dangles a “you’ll make more money with us then them” carrot to prospective AdSense publisher partners:

advertisers pay either when users click on ads, or when the advertiser's ad is shown on your site. You'll receive a portion of the amount paid for either activity on your website. Although we don't disclose the exact revenue share, our goal is to enable publishers to make as much or more than they could with other advertising networks. The best way to find out how much you'll earn is to sign up and start showing ads on your web pages. There's no cost, no obligation, and getting started is quick and easy.

Google Apps not competing with Microsoft Office? Google is certainly operating as if it is.

Aaron Ricadela reports:

Instead of trying to displace the hundreds of millions of copies of Office installed on business PCs, Google will try to snare users once they start sharing the Word and Excel files they've created… Google's plans include prompting people who send Microsoft Office documents using Gmail to translate those files into Google's formats for editing on Google.com…

Gmail messages that include attached files currently prompt users with links to download the documents or view them on the Web. Glotzbach envisions a third link to edit the documents online and generate E-mail to other users in a group when the edits are done. Writely can read files created by Microsoft Word, and Google Spreadsheets can read and create Excel files and formulas.

Glotzbach may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing when he puts forth that Writely and Google Spreadsheets aren’t "necessarily" replacements for Word or Excel. Not necessarily, but Google is doing all it can to ensure it.

ALSO SEE: Next Google Apps targets: Intuit QuickBooks, MS Money? and Google's not so fine print: Google Apps TOS put Google first

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