Google and the art of distracting Microsoft

Google and the art of distracting Microsoft

Summary: For Microsoft, losing Office 365 deals to Google Apps is losing the platform. For Google, Apps is a nice business designed to distract Microsoft from search.


The battle between Google and Microsoft over cloud office suites is heating up again after a period of silence and it's fascinating from an Art of War competition perspective.

As Mary Jo Foley recently noted, Microsoft has been telling its partners that there's no way they should lose a single Office 365 sale to Google. What vendor could seriously make that argument? You win some and lose some. At Microsoft's recent partner conference numerous sessions were devoted to selling Office 365 against Google Apps.

For Microsoft, losing Office 365 deals to Google Apps is losing the platform. Simply put, it's much harder to win lost customers over again than to keep them in the first place. Microsoft is selling value over price, noting security concerns and compliance as well as flexibility over Google Apps.

More: Microsoft vs. Google: The view from the Office 365 trenches | Microsoft's top eight business priorities for fiscal 2014

In other words, Microsoft looks pretty damn worried about Google Apps.



Meanwhile, Google hasn't been pitching Google Apps all that hard. Sure, Google has a growing enterprise sales team, but a lot of the focus will shift to cloud infrastructure services.

Google execs do note regional wins here and there. It's worth pondering this Wall Street Journal post about wins in Asia.

It's clear that Microsoft is getting huffy and puffy about its Office turf. Google is playing the silent cool kid.

What's really going on here is the art of distraction. Google eyeing Microsoft turf on many fronts. Google has the Chrome OS to battle Windows. On mobile, Google has Android, a clear winner. Microsoft Office is a target for Google Apps. If Google can merely get Microsoft wound up enough to spend a lot of energy defending its turf, Google won't have to defend search too much.

For Google, search is the obvious prize. If Microsoft could start stealing ad dollars from Google rest assured those Office 365 deals wouldn't matter as much. Microsoft's Bing has made a lot of headway, but could do much more on the ad technology front.

Google's launch of enhanced campaigns, a move that melds mobile and Web advertising together, is good for the search giant, but may ultimately annoy savvy customers. These customers know that mobile ad behavior is different and lacks the ROI of a Web search ad. Microsoft could use enhanced campaigns against Google at some point.

However, Microsoft will appear to be playing more defense until it can get Bing more competitive with Google. For now, Google is winning the art of distraction war.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Channel

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  • For consumers ...

    ... ZDNET diversions into discussing the inter-company battles ...
    ... distracts them from the real job of battling all the corporations for decent value, privacy and freedom.

    In much the same way as entertainment and religion are the opium of the masses.
  • Whatever

    Both are attacking the other's core business, and building our their own strenghts. You really think Microsoft can only focus on one thing?
    • But the attitude...

      ...suggests that to MS, anything less than a monopoly is a loss.
      John L. Ries
      • Depends on how you look at it

        I think Microsoft's point is that Office 365 is substantially better than Google Apps so there is no good reason to lose a sale to Google Apps. Or at least that's how I see it. And from that perspective, they're right. If a partner loses a sale then it's likely the partner's fault, not that Google won out on its merits.

        And defending the Office platform is important. Companies should have that strong of a desire to win.
        • Agreed. The issue also becomes that once the money and effort is spent

          moving to a platform like Google docs, it doesn't matter if the client finds out that it was less then desirable, the money is spent and they can't afford to switch back.
          William Farrel
          • there is no commitment/contract

            you can go month to month. Stop lying.
          • You've obviously never managed any kind of large platform transition.

            His point is totally relevant. Moving back to Office from Google docs may not require any additional checks be sent to Mountain View, but that DOESN'T mean it's free, or even inexpensive. It's a given that ANY type of change in the enterprise has non-negligible costs, even if it's to a free product.
        • "Win against Google every time"

          I read that as only 100% market share is acceptable.
          John L. Ries
          • Duh

            Thats the goal of every business. Do you not think Google would love 100% of the search market? Do you not think Apple would love 100% of the Mobile market? Come on.
          • Wrong

            The goal of business is to make money, not to exterminate the competition.
            John L. Ries
          • Put it this way

            If my wife's yarn shop becomes profitable enough to justify her efforts, she will have succeeded, even if she's not the sole vendor (or even the primary vendor) of yarn and tools in our city.

            Her shop will even have been successful under such circumstances if some of her customers also patronize yarn vendors other than her.
            John L. Ries
          • Re: Thats the goal of every business.

            Any competent businessman knows that owning 100% of the market is the worst possible idea.

            I am convinced Apple does not want more than 30% of the mobile market, and of course at least 90% of the profits ;)
          • goal of monopoly seeker

            goal of a business is to make profit. Some how that is interpreted by US businesses as destroying other businesses.
        • for many businesses most of what is in office is never used anyway.

          I work at a university, and about 90 percent of our academic and professional staff only use office to a level roughly equal with google apps.. in fact many use those as well.

          The point is that if all you need from an office suite is word processing, some simple spreadsheets and the like.. then you can save lots of money going with Google.

          Microsoft would like you to think that all of their 10million features are essential, but people on the ground know better. and that is why Google are willing business from Microsoft from clients that are moving from old copies of OfficeXP etc.
      • It doesn't suggest that at all. I would say that Google is the one

        that feels anything less then a monopoly is a loss. Look to Google+ for an example.

        Anything Google related gets you locked into a Google+ account whether you want it or not. Why feel the need to do that unless they feel that they want the lion's share of the "social network" market.

        And that's just one example.
        William Farrel
        • I think its more about them combining their services...

          ...consider that you also get Google Drive and Google Calender whether you want it or not. But bundling features is not unique to Google. I mean, I get a camera on my smartphone whether I want it or not.
          Marc Ello
          • Google is in a unique position when it comes to bundling.

            For most companies, bundling products only provides additional value to the buyer, it's a way to "sweeten the deal." About the only benefit to the vendor is, potentially, lock-in. However for Google, the more Google products you use, the more benefit Google derives from you. Remember, Google is not a technology company, they're an advertising sales company, and the more Google products you use the more data and opportunities to use it (e.g. advertise to you) you give them.
        • right, because microsoft accounts don't work across products yes?

          I'd also point out that Microsoft are a twice convicted monopolist. or is that predatory monopolist?

          They have a far worse history of trying to crush their opposition.. they are still in court with Novell on that subject today.
      • There's one thing that people like you always overlook,

        and that's the fact that, Microsoft can't afford to become a monopoly or to be close to one, or to even be perceived as on. The battle of the browsers taught Microsoft to be careful about that "monopoly" label.

        Which could explain why Microsoft did not try hard enough to go after the entire OS market, and they were willing to let Apple get its 5-7% market-share, and Linux its 1%. And that part, again, would explain why Microsoft didn't bother too much with countering the Apple ads of the last decade, where Apple used the Mac vs PC guy commercials to attack MS's Windows franchise. Microsoft could have fought back, but there could've been a danger of being labeled a monopoly by trying to grab the whole OS/PC market. Government regulators and the MS haters are always looking to attack MS, for even the slightest thing, and, acting monopolistic, or even being perceived as one, would be the biggest piece of ammunition that the MS haters would use against MS.
        • you mean being the big baddy behind fairsearch attaching google?`

          In fairsearch they are IMHO astroturfing the EU to try to get them to believe that Google doing all the same things in search as Microsoft are (but much more successfully) is somehow anticompetitive.

          I don't mind public relations efforts, but for gods sake why not do it out in the open instead of all the cloak and dagger crap. Facebook got stung for that recently too, paying companies to be critical of google in the media from memory.

          Id love to know how much NSA actually knows about the inner cloak and dagger stuff going on in companies like microsoft, google, apple etc.. god that would make fascinating reading.