Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Next Tech Battle: Chrome OS vs. Office Web Apps

I've seen some good posts covering Chrome OS and now Microsoft on SaaS enabling Office. These can emerge as disruptive innovations especially to small businesses and students. Google is challenging Microsoft as the OS of choice for notebooks or said another way, we've got it all wrong and it's not about replacing the OS on PC's
So if all you want to do is get online to browse the Web, check email, view video, tweet or update your Facebook page, edit some online documents, buy a book from Amazon.com--and think about it, that's a lot of what we do on a PC today--you get online in a few seconds and just go.

And here's another way to think about Chrome's business model

But when you consider the $50/year price to license an anti-viral, the $30/year to license a malware program and the additional $30/year you need for a registry cleaner, the software price of a Netbook gets completely out of line with its hardware cost.

Here's Microsoft's issue: There success has largely been based on three tenets combined in different ways: (a) gaining a monopolistic market share, (b) being a low(est) cost provider, and (c) replicating innovative products 1-2 years when they become more widely adopted. Making Office SaaS enabled is just another step in this playbook, but let's face it, as a small or medium business I've had options for some time whether it be Linux on the desktop, StarOffice, Zoho, or Google Docs.

Chrome OS just ups the ante because it means that Microsoft and other desktop application vendors may lose their seat at the table. It also plays well to Google's strength in moving more application and data to Google's cloud. And if you think enterprises won't be paying attention, think again - now they have several options to simplify the desktop and the datacenter when it comes to the basic office productivity applications. Think of the cost reduction in servers, desktop support, etc.

The next tech battle is well underway.

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