Google looking to pick off Microsoft

BY SHAHZAD CHAUDHARY – MEDILL REPORTS

I first noticed these signs a couple of days ago when I was driving West on Chicago’s I-290: giant billboards promoting Google’s ‘Apps at work.’ Google has launched a massive campaign to promote its business applications (Google Docs, G-mail, Spreadsheet, Presentation) with its cross-hairs set right on Microsoft.

Every day, for one month, there will be a new sign.

The goal for Google is to start encroaching on the market Microsoft has dominated for many years, mainly the business market. In addition to Google’s business applications software, the company is offering the ability to easily collaborate.

Here are a few advantages that Google has going for it:

–First is cost. At $50 per user a year, Google is relatively cheap compared with Microsoft. Let’s take e-mail, for example. In order to set up Microsoft Exchange, you’ll need server hardware plus the yearly Microsoft Exchange licensing cost.

For a company of 10, this would probably cost around $5,000 to $10,000 upfront, plus the cost of hiring someone to maintain and administer the server, the cost can go a lot higher. Compare that with Google’s upfront configuration cost of $1,300 and tack on the licensing fee and administrative costs for a total of about $3,300.

That’s only half the story. If all of a sudden my company grows from 10 people to a 100 people, with Microsoft I’ll need to purchase additional servers to carry the load and perhaps hire more people to maintain them. This can become quite expensive. With Google, just pay the additional user licensing and you’re done.

–The second advantage with Google is scalability. For companies that are growing, this is the perfect solution because you can calculate exactly, down to the cent, what your IT cost is going to be, and it will probably be significantly less than the Microsoft option. In fact, Google has a list of some of the well-known companies that have switched, and one of the recurring themes seems to be the low cost.

–The third advantage, and this is my personal opinion, is the quality of the products. I personally LOVE G-mail. There’s not an e-mail system that comes even close to what G-mail offers. The built-in chat capability, the e-mail conversation feature, and the simple labeling technique are all things that are sorely missed on other e-mail systems.

Google’s applications may not be as robust as Microsoft’s products, but for majority of the people they get the job done. For example, you can’t create macros for Google Spreadsheet the way you can with Microsoft Excel, and Google Presentation doesn’t have anywhere near the built in features that Microsoft Powerpoint has.

On the other hand, with Google Docs, two people can edit the same document from two different places and have the changes reflected immediately. It makes editing any type of document infinitely easier than having to check in and out using a source control software package (which is an additional cost if you get it from Microsoft).

Can Google succeed? I don’t know. If I’m the head of a company, I would definitely look into Google for the ease of use, quality of the product, low cost and the hassle I save from not having to deal with server costs and licensing issues.

Calls to Microsoft were not returned at the time of this posting, and I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say when they do comment.

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