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8/4/2009
12:34 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
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Google Muscling In On Microsoft Enterprise

Google's new offline ads encouraging IT administrators to switch to Google Apps show just how serious it is about going after Microsoft for enterprise business.

Google's new offline ads encouraging IT administrators to switch to Google Apps show just how serious it is about going after Microsoft for enterprise business.Andy Berndt, managing director of Google Labs, notes that over one-and-three-quarter-million businesses, schools and organizations "have gone Google -- including Motorola, University of Notre Dame, [and] the Mercy Corps... and each day, 3,000 more organizations join them."

Google is going about this in a very systematic manner, and is doing a lot more than just throwing Microsoft a brush-back pitch or forcing it to divert resources. Google is in this to win.

Here's a few areas where Google is attacking Microsoft:

  • Mobile operating systems: Android is showing very strong momentum, and recent worldwide market share numbers from Admob show that Google's Android has actually overtaken Windows Mobile, which is a bastion of Microsoft's enterprise user base. I'm sure Microsoft rues that it never managed to make more hay while it dominated mobile operating systems.

  • Netbooks: Steve Ballmer can taunt Windows doomsayers with as many "blah, blah, blahs" as he likes, but Windows has been competing with No One Home on the netbook front. Sure, it's easy beating vanilla Linux, but Ballmer will be the one feeling blah once Chrome hits the market.

  • Google's Chrome operating system will make netbooks fly, but will of course run on all devices, which is why Google will make sure to create more links between desktop clients and Web-based apps, like syncing bookmarks, which Jordan Golson at GigaOm notes "is the first step of many to unite the desktop and the cloud." That's going to go a long way to weaning corporate customers off their familiar clients and onto the cloud.

  • Email and productivity apps: Google obviously feels that its apps are ready to take on Office, which is why it's inviting the world to give them a whirl. The Gmail plug-in for Outlook is making it easier for IT administrators to jump the last hurdle, which is C-level executives reluctant to give up their familiar email environment.
  • Google claims to have plenty of large enterprises switching (or considering a switch) from Office to Apps, but can oddly only mention a limited number. Is it an issue of NDAs, or just that very few large enterprises are actually switching?

    Maybe it doesn't really matter -- Google knows from experience that some small companies eventually become big ones, and if they're already running Google Apps, there's no reason to believe they'd switch to Microsoft when they grow up.

    This won't happen overnight either -- as Fred Wilson notes, legacy technology dies slowly.

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