Imagine if you filled up Wembley Stadium (82K seats) and the Rose Bowl (100K seats) with a totally new audience every day for 100 days straight. You would be on pace to be one of the most successful attractions ever.
Well, today we announced that the Office Web Apps have been used by over 20 million people in the first 100 days. By comparison, The Beatles did not even draw 2 million total attendees in the first three US Tours. (I wasn't even born yet, but I am having fun with some numbers to make a point with something 'big'.)
When coupled with SkyDrive's 25GB Storage capacity, it's really no wonder why so many people love using the new products in context of their daily lives for free. In fact, we've received over 25,000 items of customer feedback which have helped shape the continuing evolution of the product.
When you compare this momentum with the 9 million Beta downloads we saw with the release of Office 2010, users are clearly very excited about the new capabilities we've included in our latest software.
The Monkees – Google Plays Off Microsoft's Song Sheet
The Monkeeswere a popular late 60's act (I saw re-runs on MTV as a kid), which were a fabricated group meant to copy the Beatles in hopes of creating similar hysteria. However, turns out they didn't really know how to play their own instruments and might have lip sync'd more than fans realized. They were accused of being 'wanna be's' or imposters. UPDATE Some readers gave feedback that the Monkees had success and did learn to play. True. However, their accolades make them a popular novelty more than contributor to music genre's. The meta point that the Beatles were innovative, were named Top influentials people by TIME magazine of all time, record #1's etc is the point.
In some ways this is amusingly similar to Google Apps which are a set of applications brought together via M&A and told to "hit the road" by a band manager desperate for a second act. I've argued before Google doesn't really know (or care) about the productivity market. The majority of Google's self-proclaimed innovations are actually just 'knock offs' to the Microsoft songs that rule the airwaves.
Maybe Time for the 'It's Not You…It's Me' Talk
Apparently Google has been demonstrating a set of features (acquired from DocVerse) which might allow users to rely entirely on Office for their productivity needs. Such continued public displays of affection for Microsoft Office might make people talk! Dave Girouard, President of Google Enterprise Division once said "We wouldn't ask people to get rid of Microsoft Office and use Google Docs because it is not mature yet." Restated - "Buy my product but don't expect it to entirely meet your needs".
Of course this is a half promise to change and half a 'can't beat them, then join them' reality check by Google. When you see how they copy our UI, create Outlook Add-ins , and license ActiveSync etc, it's clear they are in no way interested in really being an innovator in the productivity space.
It's hard to argue the pattern, and while we are flattered, our customers are much smarter than this. Nine million people downloaded the Office 2010 beta because real innovation creates real demand. Office with Exchange, SharePoint and Lync (on prem or in the cloud) is the best productivity experience. And 'No', Google still does not make Office better.
Security is More Than a Log On
Google also announced 2 factor authentication this week which follows our announcementsfrom earlier this year. But, security has to be a holistic approach, and while I applaud their decision to allow HTTPS and offer ActiveSync PIN enforcement, they still lack a holistic story. Security needs to also include features like automatic password resets, content watermarks, digital signatures, rights management, and granular levels of identity/group management as part of a broader strategy. IT should have the ability to determine which people get to see what information, when they can do it and how they can share. End users should be able to work confidently in a secure and reliable way.
Sleight of Hand – Dissecting the Numbers
They also updated their customer usage figures for Google Apps, "As of today, more than 3 million businesses have gone Google, and over 30 million users within businesses, schools and organizations now depend on our messaging and collaboration tools." After four years in market, this is a huge disappointment. In fact, using Gartner's revenue estimates(Q1 $21M for Google Apps), this would mean that their "Gone Google" marketing hysteria is more 'tempest in a teapot' and some High-school division tells me their average customer is likely about ten users. Gartner estimates GAPE revenue at .3%, yes three tenths of a percent of total Google revenue. This would also validate Forrester's findingsthat Apps are a distant 'also ran' in the workplace. Clint Boulton at eweek is right when he points out just how much harder it will get for them now that Microsoft has launched 2010 and BPOS.
Google Does Have Momentum – The Exits
On a parting note, I did read this week in Der Speigel about some Google momentum where hundreds of thousands of German citizens have opted out of Google Street View given the pending Oct 15th deadline in that country. While it may not be the runaway success they wanted, at least they point to some numbers which appear very real indeed.
Pity this is a hatchet job rather than a considered argument, otherwise it might be worth considering.
Pity also the Monkees were used as an example and denigrated. They were originally manufactured, but they did play their own instruments, did end up writing their own songs and also knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts as well. Is that an indicator of future events here as well?
@James Thanks for reading and the comment. My argument is that Google claims to be one thing (innovator) but displays traits of being something else (copycat). It's actually a pretty sound argument, I am always open for feedback if you feel that's a non defensible stance.
Love the Monkees angle you highlight, but Englebert Humperdinck also knock them off the charts at one point. So my point is about consistency, originality etc.
I'm with James on this - too much of a hatchet job to be credible, and way off the mark on the Monkees
You make a lot of good points, but....I'll be to work on my hacked and jailbroken iPad and my Droid with Google Docs soon....Can I do that with Microsoft anything on the iPad (or the Droid for that matter)? I'd be open to it, I really would, Microsoft Web Apps are much better for editing/creating than Google Docs (of course, it lacks the integration with my other Google services), but without the mobile support of devices I use more and more daily....I'm gonna go with the one that's at least telling me my stuff will be supported.
@You Rs/James Your feedback is fair. and I've updated the Monkees reference to include your feedback. Yes, the Monkees had success, yes they learned some things but comparing anything they did against the Beatles is a disproportianate set of achievements.
WRT to 'hatchet job', I respectfully disagree. I intentionally took a provocative slant to make the meta points. But since it's provocative doesn't make it not true. So read it for what it's trying to convey that Google is more copying and cozying up to our innovations in this space to be credibly considered a run away success like they portray. Is that fair to discuss?
@Adam Of course with hacking and jailbreaking you could likely do anything! The web apps are supported in Safari, Chrome, FireFox etc. So leveraging them without office installed on a PC is possible.
As always, MS biased vision of the world. As always, trying to promote their cash cow. I agree with @you and James ... we don't need propaganda, we need facts. Accusing Google of being copycat!? What MS did with Apple in the old days regarding windows itself? Even for office, early versions of Excel were copycats for Lotus 1-2-3. C'mon, you can do better than that.
@mmcc Thanks for comment and now we are talking! Seriously as this is exactly what I am trying to spark as a discussion.
It's one thing to be influenced by a technology and turn to implement and improve. That's how we all have stood on the shoulders of early giants and visionaries. Apple was influenced by Xerox who was influenced by ATT Labs etc.
But when a company of Google's power,, resources and self proclaiming 'innovator' status just rips off without adding anything back to the world, then they aren't helping us all move forward, they are simply taking someone else's work and cut/copy/paste. That's the meta point. Just putting it in the browser isnt magic, it's just a different run time.