One of the points people use to argue that Google Apps is not viable in businesses is that the company doesn’t do anything to market the collaboration applications as alternatives to on-premises software from rivals such as Microsoft and IBM.
It’s a hard argument to refute. While Microsoft throws millions of dollars at marketing Windows versus Apple’s Mac and IBM spends millions on clever commercials about innovative solutions for businesses, Google lets its products hum quietly along on geek-speak and word of mouth.
That changed with the launch of “Going Google” for its Google Apps collaboration suite Aug. 3. See the video here.
In a billboard marketing campaign on four major U.S. highways, Google will tout the advantages of Google Apps, a suite of e-mail, word processing and other applications served via the Internet and hosted on Google’s servers, as an alternative to applications from Microsoft, IBM and others that are downloaded locally to workers’ PCs.
Drivers on the 101 in San Francisco, West Side Highway in New York, The Ike in Chicago and the Mass Pike in Boston will see billboards that tell the story of an anonymous IT manager who gets so fed up with the IT status quo that his company eventually goes Google. The billboard message will change each day to tell the story to commuting workers traveling to and from their offices in the four major cities.
Andy Berndt, managing director for Google’s Creative Lab, fleshed out the value of embracing Google and the cloud in a blog post that takes shots at Microsoft Outlook, Exchange and the broader on-premises software approach:
““Every morning, millions of people wake up to a very refreshing experience at work. They don’t see ‘mailbox is full’ errors in their e-mail. They don’t worry about backing up their data. They can get to any file they need from any computer, anywhere with Internet access and a browser. They can all access and edit the same documents and spreadsheets at the same time as their colleagues. They use Gmail and Google Calendar at work as fluidly and easily as they use their personal Gmail accounts.”They video, voice and text chat with their peers globally as naturally as they send email. The IT people at these companies and organizations don’t waste time or money buying, installing or managing email servers. They focus on the smart, innovative stuff they want to work on, because they never have to bother with expensive and painful software upgrades, hardware compatibility issues or managing data centers. They have left many IT frustrations and costs behind and moved on to something better.”“
Google Finally Advertises Google Apps
That would be Google Apps, Google claims, in a comparison scenario that only prospective Google customers, journalists and analysts have been accorded to this point.
It’s a safe bet the billboard campaign won’t include any anecdotes about the myriad outages Google Apps has faced since its launch a few years ago. Like the claims about Google having zero marketing or advertising support behind Google Apps, those outages have served as additional cannon fodder for detractors to Google and the cloud overall.
Users can learn more about the campaign at Google’s new Apps At Work Website. There Google will underscore the message of how 3,000 businesses every day are signing up to choose the infrastructure-less approach of cloud computing over the server and maintenance requirements associated with traditional software packages from Microsoft, IBM and other collaboration software providers.
To date, that’s more than 1.75 million businesses, schools and various organizations, including Motorola, Serena Software, Genetech, University of Notre Dame, the Mercy Corps, Valeo, Capgemini and plenty of others.
Why the marketing campaign now? Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition, its paid version of Google Apps in February 2007. As the numbers attest, the company has seen a steady adoption of companies migrating to Google Apps from Microsoft Office and Exchange server or Lotus Notes and Domino server.
However, Google realizes it has barely scratched the surface penetrating Microsoft’s voluminous market share of more than 90 percent of Office and Exchange software installations in the world.
Moreover, Microsoft this year is also moving into the cloud with Office Web, which is designed to keep cloud-curious customers from switching to Google Apps. IBM, meanwhile, offers IBM Lotus Live as its SAAS (software-as-a-service) option.
Google’s first enterprise ad campaign shows the company is becoming more aggressive in tackling Microsoft and IBM in the office.