Google’s effort to displace Microsoft Office on corporate desktops got a modest boost today when Capgemini, the large IT services company, announced that they would be making Google Apps part of their range of offerings for corporate customers.
Google has linked up with IT consultancy and outsourcing specialist CapGemini to target corporate customers with its range of desktop applications, in the search engine’s most direct move against the dominance of Microsoft.
CapGemini, which already runs the desktops of more than a million corporate workers, will provide its customers with “Google Apps” such as email, calendar, spreadsheets and word processing.
CapGemini is one of Microsoft’s partners for its new Vista operating system and will continue to use products from Microsoft and Lotus Notes owner IBM, but adding Google is a vote of confidence in the company’s applications. CapGemini is already installing Google Apps in its first major corporate customer.
Nicholas Carr does some more digging and it isn’t really clear that there is any such customer, or at least, any customer who is willing to go public about it. In any case, the combined Google/Capgemini pitch is currently Google Apps as a complement to Microsoft Office:
First, it allows the many thousands of workers who don’t have their own PCs or their own copies of Office – from factory hands to call-center agents – to gain access to email, calendars, and other personal-productivity applications.
Second, says Jones, Google Apps simplifies collaboration, particularly between employees working at different companies. With Office and other traditional apps, he says, such collaboration usually entails “lobbing emails over the firewall” with attached files. Such “paper-shuffling” leads to a proliferation of different versions of documents, adding complexity and delays to the process. With Apps, a single version of a document is maintained by Google, and people from different companies can work on it simultaneously.
Of course, these are generic advantages of the Web-based application model, but Google is there and Microsoft is not. Yet.
Whatever traction Google Apps gets in the personal space is much less likely to arouse Microsoft than a few very public wins with business or institutional customers. It might also be a good bargaining point for enterprises trying to get a break on their Office licensing bill and that certainly will get Redmond’s attention.
Update: Mary Jo Foley has Microsoft’s predictable response.