Google is Changing the Game

ms_masthead_8x6a_ltr.jpgAs has been shown over the last decade, it is basically impossible toGoogle create a traditional software package to compete with Microsoft’s Office Suite. Many have tried and many have failed. The primary tactics that companies have used have been to compete by adding features, or just making basically the same products for free. Still, people continue to use Microsoft. They carved out a dominant place in the market, and have leveraged it into billions of dollars. All that may be changing. South of Washington on the Pacific coast is a little company you may know called Google, who is trying to change the game entirely. Yesterday Google purchased a software package called Writely, which is a web-based word processing application. (Microsoft Word that lives on the net instead of your computer’s hard drive.) Google is also rumored to be releasing a calendar program that will compliment its fantastic gmail program. (Outlook based on the web with free e-mail built into it) Why is any of this important? Well, imagine that all of your software was free. Imagine that you never had to pay for software upgrades again. Imagine that you could access all of your documents from anywhere in the world with internet connectivity, which is pretty much anywhere you are likely to be, just by logging into your account. Imagine that instead of your computer being bogged down with hundreds or thousands of documents, you only had to save those that were critical or that you needed to backup. Imagine that your calendar, e-mail, search, rss, documents, and internet were all in sync with one another, and could work together to make your life easier. It is happening right now. Let me clarify that I am not a Microsoft basher. While I recognize they have had some issues, I use their products daily. Windows and office have changed my life, but will I be using them 2 years from now? 5 Years from now? Will I continue to use Office, which I will certainly have to pay for, or will I switch to Google, or to something entirely different. The lesson here is that Google is approaching software differently. Rather than compete head to head with the established market leader, they are creating an entirely new market. They are giving software away for free, in exchange for attention. This is a drastically different model from the Microsoft plan of old (buy, use, upgrade, buy, use, upgrade), and it appears to be the emerging vision of Google. Strategically this is brilliant, but the execution of the strategy remains. You can bet that Microsoft (and Apple and Yahoo) will not just passively watch this unfold. It is a lesson in competition, and it will be amazing to see how this will all play out in the marketplace.
Writely

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