I’ve got a hunch that this week’s Google+ news is the first volley in a tectonic shift for the tech industry. While conventional wisdom puts the battle between Google and Facebook for control of the so-called social graph, the real battle is fermenting between Google and Microsoft.
In one corner:
- GoogleApps (docs, video, email, cal)
In the other corner:
- MicrosoftOffice (desktop, online)
- Skype (with rumors swirling on this late Friday before a holiday pointing to an announcement next week around the integration of Skype into Facebook)
Microsoft has been slow — if not outright absent — in the present day war among everyday consumers…outflanked by the speed, agility and popularity of Google and Facebook. Yet it still remains a force to be reckoned (arguments aside about how it obtained that force). It’s Office suite is still king and increasingly becoming more Google-like. It has done a nice job of staying alive, if not thriving in search. Hotmail still has, last I heard, a huge following. And the purchase of Skype was thought by many to be a shrewd move to enhance its enterprise business (although it looks like enterprise may not have been the primary or sole reason for the acquisition). Microsoft is slowly, if not stealthily, encroaching on Google’s hallowed turf.
Google, despite a slew of missteps (which happens when a company refuses to let a product make a transition from engineering to marketing), has used its apps products to encroach on Microsoft’s stranglehold. Not so much from functionality, but as a tool to cause people to question whether they need traditional software…Redmond’s bread and butter. And, now, with Google+, it has the ability to thwart Microsoft’s plans for Skype.
Except Microsoft has that hidden and oft-forgotten ace up its sleeve: Its investment in Facebook (and Facebook’s hatred of all things G). Skype + Facebook — if the rumor pans out next week — puts Microsoft and Google on equal footing. In fact, I’d go so far to say that given the consumerization of IT and Microsoft’s embedded position in the enterprise, it could put Microsoft back into the tech driver’s seat.
If my hunch plays out, we’ve got ourselves an unbelievable dogfight coming in the tech industry. And when it happens — when two behemoths push themselves to out do and out innovate each other — you and I win.