Google dismissed Microsoft's Docs integration with Facebook as a collaboration play for casual users. Built on Microsoft Office 2010, Docs lets Facebook users create and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and share them with users in the social network. Meanwhile, analysts from Nucleus Research and IDC are torn on whether Docs for Facebook is a threat to Google Docs and the broader Google Apps suite.
If Google is nervous about Microsoft's latest integration
with Facebook on Web-based documents, it isn't showing it and analysts are torn
on whether the company has cause for concern.
Microsoft and Facebook April 21 unveiled
an application called Docs that lets Facebook users create and
share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and share them with users in the
Docs is built on
the Web-based Microsoft Office 2010 suite, which the software giant is
expected to formally roll out in June. Office 2010 is expected to be a
challenger to the Google Docs document, presentation and spreadsheet
within Google Apps, which is used by more than 2 million businesses.
Google dismissed the Docs integration with Facebook as a collaboration play
for casual users, as a spokesperson told eWEEK:
"Microsoft Docs.com sounds like an interesting way
to do lightweight sharing within Facebook, and provides another example of how
all software innovation is happening in the cloud. Google Docs is a great
choice for those interested in powerful features and true collaboration."
Interestingly, Google's position about this move has been
the standard response to any companies that have stepped up to offer online
collaboration tools, from IBM to Cisco Systems.
The company believes
more cloud computing challengers that exist, the greater the market opportunity
that exists for Google Apps, which the company believes users and businesses
will go to when they try other solutions.
Analysts view the moved differently. Nucleus Research
analyst Rebecca Wetteman told eWEEK:
"Facebook isn't taken seriously by businesses -
except those that choose to block it because workers waste time socializing on
it instead of working. Microsoft missed the point on this one.
While it may be
fun to share poems or other docs on my Facebook page, it's more for socializing
than serious business use. Why not, instead, enable Office users already
connected by LDAP to collaborate on a document at the same time? That's the
business case for Google Docs."
IDC analyst Melissa Webster told eWEEK such an
integration will expose Facebook's 400-million-plus users to Microsoft's Office
"It's a great play to push Office at the consumer
market and entrench Office as 'the standard,' and perceptions
count," Webster said. "Up to now, Google has been 'the
standard' when it comes to online Web authoring tools, and that's what
Microsoft is battling here.
That's not to say this move will change the minds of
businesses and university buyers using/contemplating Google Docs -- they're
buying Google Apps for its hosted e-mail and calendar, and its collaboration
capabilities, and Google Docs is just a part of that total picture/value
proposition. But a key reason Google has gotten paid users is the growth in use
of its free Gmail and Calendar and Docs offerings -- think of the unpaid user
base as a giant sales funnel for potential paid users. FB could help Microsoft
build that size funnel."
Docs in full here, but the gist is this: Users can navigate to
Docs.com and log in using Facebook Connect. Users can view documents shared by
their friends, or else create or upload a document.
Once a document's been created and edited, it can be
shared with any Facebook friends selected via an interface on the right-hand
side of the screen. Documents can be viewed and edited directly within a Web
browser or through the Microsoft Office software on a PC or Mac with a single
The Docs integration isn't the first time Microsoft and
Facebook have worked together to challenge Google on the Web.
have also teamed up on search and advertising for the last four years. Microsoft
the Web search on Facebook.
Maverick blog writer Mark Cuban
Microsoft might buy Facebook to capture the social Web. That would
certainly give Google pause.