Step 1: Compete with Microsoft. Step 2: Partner with Google. Step 3: Profit.
Google's deal with Intuit isn't anti-MS, it's pro-Internet. But for your amusement, here's a top 10 list of companies that have scrapped with Microsoft and subsequently partnered with the world's largest search engine.
Google's partnership with Intuit, announced yesterday, closely links one of the most successful applications for small businesses -- there are 3.5 million SMB QuickBooks users, according to Intuit -- with the most successful advertising medium for small businesses.
Google now has a way to gain access to millions of small businesses that don't have a Web presence. Those companies that don't have a Web site can have Google automatically create one through QuickBooks.
On the call announcing the deal, both Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Intuit CEO Steve Bennett stressed that the more customers go online, the more they will access online services from both Google and Intuit.
And of course, more small businesses online means more small businesses using AdWords and, eventually, AdSense.
So repeat after me: This isn't about competing with Microsoft. Microsoft's Small Business Accounting has never really gained traction against QuickBooks anyway. Google's strategy is more pro-Internet than anti-MS. And all of Google's previous announcements -- Google Pack, Writely, Spreadsheets and Google Apps for Your Domain -- all benefit from some form of integration with a Microsoft product.
Now, that said, this is just the latest in a series of deals and releases this year that puts Google, bit by bit, in a position to circumvent desktop software and take people directly to the Google cloud.
All of Google's distribution partners are Microsoft competitors
If Google's business partners have one thing in common besides a cozy relationship with the world's largest search engine, it's the simple fact that they've all been smacked around by Microsoft. And in Silicon Valley, hell hath no fury like a tech company scorned.
Google is free to partner with software providers because, duh, Google doesn't offer competing desktop software. MS, born of a desktop software strategy, will be forced to use its own software to send customers to Windows Live.
Below, a top 10 list of Google's business relationships vis-a-vis Microsoft.
- Sun Microsystems -- Sun has historically faced off against Microsoft with a variety of software and services, including operating systems, software and servers. Sun settled a lawsuit against MS in 2001, charging that MS tried to change Java so that it worked differently on Windows. MS settled that lawsuit for $20M. But the two were back in the courtroom in 2004. That time Sun lost, and its stock was trading at historic lows. The company has been bouncing back steadily. Last year, Sun partnered with Google in an overhyped (by the media) deal in which Sun will distribute the Google Toolbar as an option in downloads of Java, and will discuss ways to promote and enhance OpenOffice.org.
- Novell -- Novell has scrapped more than once with the giant in Redmond, most notably after MS lost its antitrust suit and Novell jumped on the bandwagon, suing MS over its efforts to eliminate competition in the office productivity market in the '90s when Novell owned WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. The two companies have also scapped over servers. Novell and Google aren't partnered as far as I know, but of course Google's CEO Eric Schmidt left the head job at Novell in 2001 for the search company. Nobody outside MS knows MS strategy better than Schmidt.
- Intuit -- Microsoft has never been good at marketing to the really, really small business, and that's where Intuit shines. The back office software company's QuickBooks trounces Microsoft's Small Business Accounting software. Intuit also owns the Quicken brand, which outperforms Microsoft's Money. Yesterday Intuit integrated Google services into QuickBooks. But that's not all: The company is also connected through Apple, where both Eric Schmidt and Intuit's chairman and former CEO Bill Campbell have seats.
- Apple -- While not technically a Google partner, Apple and Google are connected through Schmidt's board seat and their mutual competition with Microsoft. Via Apple, Google gets closer to Hollywood.
- Adobe -- This year saw Microsoft launch betas of design software applications that compete with Adobe's Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Dreamweaver. And Adobe almost took Microsoft to court over its plans to include PDF functionality in Microsoft Word. In January, Google announced its Google Pack of software, which includes Adobe Reader. A few months later, Google and Adobe partnered by distributing the Google Toolbar through downloads of Adobe's Shockwave.
- Real Networks -- RealPlayer may be the elephant man of media software, but it's a popular elephant man, and it competes with Microsoft's Windows Media Player. RealPlayer is included in downloads of Google Pack.
- Symantec -- "Our strategy is to out-innovate Microsoft," said Symantec CEO John Thompson. "We know more about security than they ever will." Microsoft announced Windows Live OneCare this year, and Symantec included Norton AntiVirus 2005 in Google Pack.
- DivX -- DivX has been battling Microsoft over video compression, but Hollywood has historically associated DivX with piracy, preferring to work with Microsoft. Google partnered with DivX in January when it first announced Google Video.
- Salesforce.com -- Not a Google partner per se, but the company did purchase Kieden, which helps customers track sales leads generated through Google AdWords. Salesforce will eventually compete with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, if and when that jumble-y mouthful is released in 2007.
- IBM -- Do you really need me to reiterate IBM's contentious history with Microsoft here? Google partnered with IBM in 2005 to provide desktop search for the IBM OmniFind corporate search system. Note Loren Baker's comment at the bottom of that last link: "What's next? Google and Apple working together to integrate iTunes into Google's search engine?"