The Google packaging of SOHO/SMB services and applications I've been hankering for is finally getting more organized. Yet everyone seems to be positioning this as only an anti-MS Office play. But what about Apple and iWork, not to mention OS X and .mac?
I don't think this is really a threat to the enterprise before it's an alluring reality for SOHOs/SMBs, where Apple is strongest.
It sure looks like Google is not just making MS Office users an offer they should not not ignore, but increasingly SOHO users like me and SMBs that are Mac shops will be sizing up the alternatives: Google or Apple. There's not quite enough there there yet for me to drop my highly productive Apple iWork- and OS X- and iLife-supported computing, communications, PC search, back-up, and work habits.
But based on what Google is now doing, I can see a day not too far off where I will. And if Google makes this all ad-supported and for all intents and purposes free to me -- and I can start doing more of my sales and marketing outreach using Google services -- well, I'm going to be someday using my Mac Pro for just accessing Google stuff, I guess. Why pay Apple for all those .mac extras?
That is not what Apple needs or wants to hear right, especially as they are now nicely moving the market-share points up against MS Office and Windows. I wonder if a Google-Apple synergy is possible before the momentum to SOHO SaaS and grid, ala Google Apps for Your Domain and Amazon EC3/S3 respectively, gets too fast to stop? It may be way too late for any meaningful coopetition between Google and Apple.
Steve Jobs recently announced that storage and backup options for OS X Leopard will be growing impressively. Does that mean a burgeoning "Apple Apps for You Domain" and all your associated online services too? Will Apple need to begin running outside ads on its .mac stuff to compete with Google? Would Disney house ads be a good start?
I really do think Apple will need a response to Google now, and not just an occasional high-five from a distance such as Google integrated search in Safari. The ball is in Apple's court.