Google and the art of distracting Microsoft

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.

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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.