Google Apps is one the latest challenges to Microsoft’s dominance of productivity software on the desktop. A clear example of cloud computing, as all data created is stored on the Internet, Google apps includes applications for communications, including Gmail for electronic mail, Gtalk for instant messaging and Google calendar for organizing individuals schedules as well as sharing events, meetings and calendars with others; Google Docs, which can be used for
creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations; The Start Page which is a repository for users to preview their electronic mail, calendars and other content and Google Sites which maintains related documents and other information in place are part of the series of applications for collaboration and publishing. Google Apps is available in Standard, Premier and Education Editions, the first and last being free and the Premier Buy Google Reviews Edition costing $50 per head per user per year.
According to Google, 500,000 businesses have signed up to use Google Apps, although the breakdown between paid and free subscriptions is unavailable. Many organizations are apparently impressed by the lower costs compared to a traditional desktop application, that include purchase of the software itself, reduced support and storage costs as well as claims of faster learning curves.
In addition, evidence is rising that that Google may be shaking up the software productivity market sooner than had been anticipated. Gartner’s research has revealed many top corporations using Google Apps, with at least 6% of large enterprise information technology personnel using a Google web-based application on a daily basis. Google’s share of the productivity market is becoming quickly pervasive.
However, in general, Google Apps are generally not as powerful in terms of capabilities when compared to Microsoft’s Office Suite. However, whereas Microsoft’s products are installed on desktops, Google’s applications facilitate mobile collaboration, given their accessibility from the Internet at any time and any place. This
capability for mobile users is very much ahead of Microsoft’s plans for the deployment of its applications over the web. Yet, the heart of the controversy lies in the number of paid subscriptions to the service, which Google is hesitant to reveal, making it reliant on its income from these applications from advertising on the free edition of Gmail.
The implications for Microsoft and the industry are somewhat apparent. Microsoft will most likely need to adjust the pricing of its Office Suite in order to acknowledge the presence of Google Apps in the marketplace. In addition, users of office productivity have much to gain with this competition. Both suites will continue to add features and improvements in order to gain customers over each other.
Related to the applications arena, Google is now trying to be the premier search engine for image searching. Google has developed an image-recognition technology, called Visual Rank, which reduces the number of irrelevant images returned in a search by 83%. The implications for better search relevancy mean faster clicking through web pages which means increased revenue for Google. Other start-ups are making attempts in this arena, yet do not have the ability to make overall breakthroughs that can improve upon Google’s technology. Their technologies may tackle image searches specific to an industry rather than compete against Google’s which is geared for the computer industry in general. The release of this new capability is yet to be disclosed