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What do you do when you're outnumbered 250 to 1? Call in the Spartans.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is preparing to introduce an app store not unlike Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iTunes. However, this one's intended for add-ons or extensions to Google Apps -- its cloud-based alternative to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Office suite.
The strategy makes sense. Office installments outnumber Google Apps installments 500 million to 2 million, the Journal reports. Recruiting developers to add to the suite, using the promise of incremental revenue as a lure, could make this contest a digital Battle of Thermopylae.
Of course, the trouble with this analogy (if you're a Google shareholder) is that the Greeks, led by a Spartan force of 300, eventually lost at Thermopylae. Google wants a win, not a valiant defeat. Too much revenue is at stake.
On the other hand, history has a way of handing victories to those who attract and keep developers. Witness Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE ) and Red Hat (NYSE: RHT ) , both of which have enjoyed generous support from coders over the years, as have Apple with the iPhone and Microsoft with Windows. In this case, sparkling new functionality in Google Apps could lead users to try the software inside their browsers, where The Big G can show them ads.
Of course this all assumes that the Journal report is correct and that Google is about to call in the Spartans. There's still a chance The Big G will choose to go it alone on development, but I hope it doesn't. Google needs as large a code-crunching horde as it can commandeer in order to make this a fair fight.
But that's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will developers help Google take a bite out of Microsoft Office? Or is Mr. Softy too entrenched in corporate America to be unseated? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.