Google Apps Premier: Is this the beginning of the new “pick a side” battle?

Microsoft & Google Software / Open Source Tech News

In its latest effort to diversify revenue sources, Google now has a
“Premier Edition” of Google Apps. The $50 per user per year is
obviously much cheaper than any Microsoft equivalent. At the same time,
though, Google’s spreadsheet program is nowhere near as robust and so
far there’s no Google PowerPoint.

So here are major improvements you get when you pay for Google Apps Premier Edition:

  • Text-based ads alongside your email is now optional
  • Email storage is now 10 GB instead of 2 GB
  • 24/7 Phone Support
  • 99.9% Uptime Guarantee

Google’s email and calendaring offerings are very competitive even if other software (i.e. Spreadsheets and Docs) is a little more lacking. As an example, so far, Google’s word processor and spreadsheet can’t exchange data and the spreadsheet has no graphing function. But like everything nowadays, what Google is offering is a work-in-progress which is sure to address some of these issues down the road.

The company claims its free version is being used by more than 100,000 small businesses. Some analysts are claiming that this latest move is “…the beginning of the first major challenge to Microsoft as the default enterprise interface in the last 10 years.”

My question: Are we going to see a repeat of brand loyalty we faced back in the WordPerfect vs. Word days? I remember back in the day when switching between multiple word processors was a pain and got in the way of collaboration in the non-techie universe. Microsoft eventually won that battle, and for the last 10 years, everyone has seemed to agree on Word, Excel, etc. Now Google is here, wants to play, and even offers ways to convert Microsoft documents/spreadsheets (assuming you’re not using any fancy Microsoft-only features).

Of course, competition is a good thing and helps feed innovation. But now that Google has shown up with what may turn into a serious presence, I just hope it doesn’t turn into a you-must-pick-a-side battle where the losers are millions of consumers unable to collaborate effectively across competing platforms.

*Update* ZDNet has an interesting post asking how much we should trust Google with hosting our data when this whole thing is a side project at best (i.e., if Google loses your data, big deal, the company’s billions of revenue come from search/advertising).

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