Google is borrowing a page from the T-Mobile playbook. The mobile provider started the trend of basically buying out customers’ contracts with other mobile services to enable them to make a switch to T-Mobile. Google isn’t offering to buy out customers, but it is going to let businesses use Google Apps for free until their existing contract with a rival productivity platform expires.
I wrote this blog post about Google’s efforts to convince Microsoft Office customers to make a switch:
Microsoft Office has been the de facto standard for office productivity software for…well, pretty much since it was first introduced nearly a quarter century ago. Office 365 and Office 2016 are keeping the momentum rolling in Microsoft’s favor, but Google would like to change that. Google is working with its partners to provide businesses engaged in volume-licensing agreements with Microsoft enough incentive to entice them to make a switch.
Google and its partners are facing increasing competition from the success of Office 365 and consistently encounter the same problem. Basically, most of the potential customers that would consider making a switch to Google Apps are already paying Microsoft or some other provider as part of a long-term volume licensing agreement. They’re unwilling to make a switch until the contract with comes up for renewal, and by that time they may change their minds or forget about Google.
Rich Rao, head of global sales for Google Apps for Work announced the initiative in a blog post titled Going Google just got easier. “In fact, we’re so confident that Docs has all the features you need, without the ones you don’t, that we’re making it even easier to give it a try. If you’re worried about switching to Docs because you still have an enterprise agreement (EA) with another provider, we’ll cover the fees of Google Apps until your contract runs out. We’ll even chip in on some of the deployment costs and set you up for success with one of our Google for Work Partners.”
The new strategy will let Microsoft (or other enterprise productivity solution) customers use the enterprise edition of Google Apps for free for the duration of their existing contract in exchange for a one-year commitment to pay for Google Apps services after the expiration. Google will also cover up to $25 per user to help companies migrate services and data over to Google Apps.
Google launched its Web-based challenger to Microsoft Office a little less than 10 years ago. The core applications—Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides—parallel the three primary tools in Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Combined with tools like Gmail for email and Google Drive for cloud data storage, among other things, Google offers a comprehensive suite of productivity tools and services to rival Microsoft Office.
According to a recent report from Bitglass, Google Apps climbed from 16.3 percent to 22.8 percent of the cloud email and productivity market. That growth was overshadowed, however, by the fact that Office 365 spiked more than 300 percent from 7.7 percent to 25.2 percent to pass Google up.
It bears mentioning, though, that Office 365 does not mean running Office applications in the cloud. Office 365 includes additional features and services like Exchange Online and OneDrive, but the Microsoft Office suite itself is the exact same Microsoft Office suite if you just buy Office Professional 2016 without the Office 365 subscription. You install Microsoft Office on your Windows or Mac PC and the applications work whether you’re offline or connected to the Internet. Google Apps, on the other hand, are Web-based tools with limited offline functionality.
Check out the full post on Forbes: Google Offers Aggressive Incentives To Win Microsoft Office Customers.