May 18, 2010
If I were Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) CEO Steve Ballmer, I'd be chewing my fingernails to the bone right about now. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is coming on strong as a threat to Microsoft's cash-cow Office suite -- and showing no signs of letting up the pressure.
The latest attack is another small but strategic acquisition: Google picked up Global IP Solutions for $68 million in cash. The boutique technologist is a force to be reckoned with in digital communications, because its audio and video format specifications have become important building blocks in a number of high-profile applications. GIPS voice technology shows up in consumer-centric instant messenger software by Yahoo! and AOL (NYSE: AOL ) , as well as enterprise communications solutions from IBM, Cisco Systems, and Oracle. It's not a bad crowd to hang out with.
Besides, the connections already run deep. Google uses GIPS-developed formats in its Google Talk messenger platform and in voice-over-IP service Gizmo5, which Google bought last year to fold into the Google Voice service. The digital communications technology portfolio in Mountain View is getting mighty strong. Put all the pieces together and you have an enterprise-ready solution built from a patchwork of acquisitions and internal development. Online communications and cloud-computing integration are at the foundation of modern business software, and Google is making a strong play to become a top-level provider of these tools.
So I sure hope that Microsoft has something special in Office 2010, including bulletproof Web applications and collaboration features. If not, Google could steal huge chunks of Microsoft's customer base thanks to a batch of acquired technologies.
Will Microsoft Office join eight-track tapes, Montgomery Ward stores, and the Furby in the land of played-out fads when Google is done? Could the Redmond brute rise up and reinforce its hold of the office software market? Discuss in the comments below.