Until now, business software has been the near-exclusive purview of Microsoft, whose Office Suite and similar products are the most-used business apps in the world. A handful of competition from other software makers like Apple have tried to edge in on the Redmond Giant’s market, but with limited success. In the last year or so, though, a new and much more powerfully-equipped contender has been carving large chunks out of Microsoft’s monopoly: Google.
For over half a decade, Google has been developing Google Apps and gaining a lot of inroads to become the most-used business software for small businesses and tech startups. With the ability to quickly import documents from many different types of software and export back to many of them as well as with its industry-leading collaboration tools thanks to its existence in the cloud, Google Apps has been growing quickly.
Most assumed it would not be of interest to big enterprises, however, who have traditionally purchased licenses for software like MS Office and kept them in-house. Recently, though, that has proven not to be the case. Hoffmann-La Roche (the pharmaceutical company) and the U.S. Department of the Interior have both adopted Google Apps as their preferred office suite, eschewing the traditional Microsoft Office Suite.
Cost – Functionality – Benefit Comparison
The reasons become obvious as soon as serious consideration is given to the two competing suites. Office requires:
- Annual license purchases at a cost of $200 or more each (depending on the number of deployments);
- Information Technology infrastructure to host and store the software and documents;
- Personnel to oversee updates, maintenance, etc. for the software;
- A networking infrastructure to allow either the hosting of the suite on servers or the connection of the various computers in the enterprise in order to share documents and data.
That is just getting started. For Apps, however, the requirements (no matter the enterprise size) are:
- A fixed $50 per user fee;
- Internet access (for sharing and collaboration, working offline is also possible now).
That’s all. From the lowest-cost dumb terminal or Netbook to the highest-priced infrastructure of machines, most Internet-ready devices can access and use Google Apps – even smart phones. Collaboration is built-in with most of Google’s Apps and data management and security have been upgraded to the point that they meet even the world’s most stringent standards (namely European requirements).
What About Office 365?
This is Microsoft’s push of Office into the cloud, but so far the offering has gained little market share. With a list price of $72 per person per year (to start, most pay more), it’s just not as competitive as it could be. Google Apps can read and write most Microsoft formats as well as intuitively save into Adobe’s PDF, plain text, and even the free to use Open Office suite, it’s far more versatile.
Expect to see many more announcements of large enterprises adopting Apps over Office in the next couple of years.