Is Google Apps now a real Microsoft Office competitor?

Summary:An alliance forged between Google and systems integrator CapGemini was the talk of the blogosphere on September 10. Many commentators are looking at the new partnership as proof that Google finally is ready to make business inroads with Google Apps Premier Edition -- mostly at Microsoft's expense. To me, there are some pieces that still don't quite add up.

An alliance forged between Google and systems integrator CapGemini was the talk of the blogosphere on September 10. Many commentators are looking at the new partnership as proof that Google finally is ready to make business inroads with Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) -- mostly at Microsoft's expense.

To me, there are some pieces that still don't quite add up.

Price: How did CapGemini make its $10 billion in revenues in 2006? By charging for consulting, outsourcing and other related services. That's the business it is in. Google has been touting the $50 per user per year price point of GAPE as one of its main selling points. But once you add the fees for the services CapGemini provides -- procurement, installation, deployment, management and "disposal" -- that $50 will be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what customers will pay for GAPE from CapGemini. Demand: CapGemini has signed up one customer for Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), according to a story in the UK Guardian. On Nick Carr's Rough Type blog, a CapGemini executive says it has signed up no customers, but is really close to finalizing a deal with an unnamed U.S. telecommunications firm. I'm sure there will be more enterprise users kicking the tires of GAPE. But when will these dabblers turn into switchers? And will they be willing to pay a premium for guaranteed 24X7 support and 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime for Gmail, among other enhancements?

Integration: Google continues to deny that it sees GAPE as a head-on competitor to Office. CapGemini execs also cite GAPE and Office as complementary, not competitive. I have yet to see anyone explain exactly how Google's own email, instant-messaging, spreadsheet, calendaring, word processing and other applications (all of which overlap with what Microsoft has) are complementary to Office. Is GAPE supposedly the "online" complement to the (mostly) offline Microsoft Office? What happens in shops where some of your customers are standardized on Office and others are standardized on GAPE?

Again, as I've said before: I would love to see Microsoft Office get some real competition. Competition would force Microsoft to be more responsive to user demands on features, pricing and more. Is GAPE -- in spite of Google and its partners' denials -- that head-to-head competitor? I still don't see it that way. Do you?

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Google

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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