But even though Google is buying up Web-based capabilities found in Microsoft Corp.'s Office suite, the search engine isn't targeting the enterprise user space, which Microsoft dominates, or trying to compete with Microsoft desktop applications, Gartner said. Instead, Google is more likely interested in the consumer market and in extending its collaborative and social networking services to offer more space to advertisers.
"Google doesn't expect enterprise users to use online versions of office applications. It will be a long time, if ever, before Web-based applications provide the extensive functionality of traditional office suites," Gartner said in a research note released Tuesday. "In many cases, however, the reduced-function Web-based applications are 'good enough.' And they may be particularly good enough when employed in 'civilian' collaborative environments (for example, by "soccer moms" or by investment clubs) or environments where nothing is installed today."
In addition, it's likely that Google is also hoping that its online applications distract Microsoft in its efforts to compete with Google in its core advertising market, Gartner said.
Gartner expects Google to acquire an online presentation application, such as Thumbstacks sometime this year. The Mountain View, Calif., search engine bought online word processor Writely in March, and launched Google Spreadsheets this month.