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Bigger Than The Beatles and Google’s Crush on Office Get Serious

Bigger Than The Beatles and Google’s Crush on Office Get Serious

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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'.)

 

Rapid Fans

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.

 

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