Google acquisition forces Microsoft to make tough calls, fast
By: Ben Weiss
For years, Microsoft Office has been the go-to option for commercial desktop applications, featuring products such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint that have come to be cornerstones of everyday business operations in virtually every industry.
However, in an effort to establish itself as a viable competitor in the office productivity sector, Google has designed the Google Apps product line, which has been fiercely marketed in the enterprise space to get corporate decision makers to transition over to an infrastructure built on Gmail, Docs, Sites, Vault and more.
Heightening the utility of its product portfolio, Google recently announced the acquisition of Quickoffice - a move that better positions Google as a front runner in the mobile enterprise space by controlling software that already has a large existing user base and enables customers to manipulate both Office and Google Apps on iPad and Android tablets. Consequently, the move would be a tactic to slow down Office sales and increase Google Apps market share.
Interestingly, a response from Clint Patterson - the Microsoft Office division’s director of communications - published by The New York Times gives the surface impression that Microsoft is not intimidated by the move.
“Google Apps require compromise and don’t meet the productivity needs of most people and businesses,” said Patterson. “Google’s primary focus is advertising, so it’s not surprising that they are trying to address the limitations of Google Apps through acquisition.”
But, regardless of Microsoft’s expressed opinion on this issue, the Google/Quickoffice merger brings forth some tough questions that Microsoft will need to address.
For example, while details on the matter remain sparse, the above-mentioned Times article indicates that Microsoft officials are not ignoring the pervasiveness of the iPad and are developing an application that would allow users to deploy Office using the Apple technology.
Simultaneously though, Microsoft has made no secret regarding its plans to publicly release its answer to the iPad - the touch-sensitive Windows 8 - this fall, which will heavily advertise a an Office version designed specifically for that operating system.
Consequently, the Google acquisition will force Microsoft to decide how enthusiastically the company will flock to the iPad given the risk of cannibalizing the utility of the forthcoming Windows 8 release.
So will Microsoft keep the tablet-friendly Office design exclusive to Windows 8 to bolster sales or move to the iPad as well for a potentially larger user base? We’ll be keeping our eyes and ears peeled for more details, but be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section or join the conversation by following us on Twitter or joining the Microsoft Technical Professional Network on LinkedIn.
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