Google vs. Microsoft: Call it a draw over time

Could it be that there will be no clear winner in Google vs. Microsoft battle?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Could it be that there will be no clear winner in Google vs. Microsoft battle?

That's a question worth asking. While observers get caught up in the battle between the two giants it's not a zero sum game. Microsoft will impact Google and vice versa. The real enemy for Microsoft is Microsoft. And ditto for Google.

This conclusion springs from a presentation from Gartner analysts David Mitchell and Tom Austin. The presentation was delivered Wednesday at the Gartner Symposium and ITxpo in Orlando.

Austin and Mitchell reckon that the most important battlegrounds for Google and Microsoft are:

  • Consumerization of IT: The user revolution.
  • Web 2.0: Can the companies build solid visions that take advantage of consumer-generated media and social networking?
  • Relationships: Who can partner better?

The Gartner analysts conclude:

The battle between Microsoft and Google will not have a clear winner or loser. Both companies have deep pockets and smart people making important decisions. Each company is likely to have significant impact on each other's key product areas — Google on Microsoft's desktop and applications businesses, and Microsoft on Google's ad platform business. Although it is possible that neither will take large market share from the other in the short term, each is making an attempt to take advantage of established products and services to grow and protect its existing revenue.

Well that isn't much fun is it?

The upshot:

  • Microsoft can leverage its platform to push its Live services;
  • Google will dabble in the enterprise, but it's more for giggles since it really is focused on search advertising;
  • Microsoft will wind up playing on Google's advertising turf instead of differentiating like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned on Wednesday;
  • Microsoft has relationships with device manufacturers, content providers and carriers than can be used against Google;
  • Microsoft trails Google on the consumer front, but the search giant is vulnerable on consumer generated content.

In other words, neither company is perfect. Here's Microsoft's ledger:

And Google's:

Gartner comes down on the side that this whole Google vs. Microsoft thing is really about mutual distraction. Google plays Office to distract Microsoft. The software giant talks up advertising and SaaS as a way to hit Google's core market and adjust to the threat of SaaS. For instance, Gartner reckons that Office 2007 will be last release of its kind with its current pricing and packaging. Office will use automatic upgrades and rentals from this point on.

Sure, you can pick apart various items, but in the end both cookie jars (Google's advertising business and Microsoft's software business) are left untouched. That outlook is less dramatic for sure, but probably more accurate.

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