It hasn’t been a good few days for Goggle Apps. First there was an ostensible puff piece in the New York Times that damned Google’s free Web 2.0 office applications (and Google itself) with faint praise.
This week’s Day Late Dollar Short Award goes to the New York Times for this gasping story from yesterday’s paper informing us that Google and Microsoft are … wait for it … going to war! Gist of the story is that Google is betting the farm on cloud computing and if cloud computing catches on then Microsoft is dead. Problem with planting stories like this one (and yeah, Google clearly pitched this and prepped it and tied it up with a bow like an early Christmas present for the Times) is that they have a tendency to backfire on you and make you look worse. Which is what happens here. Google set out to place a big unpaid advertisement for Google cloud applications; what it got was a big story telling the whole world that nobody is actually using these things. Worse yet is the way Google gets portrayed in the article.
Then today, Joe Wilcox piles on (R.I.P.: The Web 2.0 Office Suite) with data from an NPD survey that shows that 73% of consumers have never heard of “online, browser-based office productivity applications” and that only 4.4% sometimes or often use such applications with only 0.5% exclusively online. As is often the case with surveys, the results raise more questions including how many of the consumers surveyed had high speed Internet connections and actually have full fledged office applications like Office, but Wilcox’s net is:
As for Web-based alternatives to Office, the channel strategies aren’t working. Awareness is poor and very few consumers use the services. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can sleep easy tonight.
Not every clever idea works out of course, but it’s mostly clear that Google and the other Web 2.0 office vendors have some marketing work to do among consumers. When everyone has heard of online office apps and no one is using them is when you dig the grave.
Finally, the Times article (aside from showing a high reading on the hubris meter at Google) observes that Google just started last year to push hard for business adoption where not only are the online apps not free, but the stakes are much higher than the home market. I would suggest that the online office applications game has just started and that the fans keep their seats for a while.