Three guesses what the big story in the blogosphere and tech-o-sphere is this morning. Here’s a hint: It starts with the word Google, and ends with the word Office. I’ll say one thing — like my friend Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0, I wish the search company would stop protesting about how it isn’t really competing with Microsoft, and just cut to the chase and say “Game on.”
Despite what the online Office skeptics say (and Kent Newsome has a point about large-scale corporate use of such apps), the future of applications like Word has to include the Web, and so far Microsoft hasn’t exactly been a shining example of how to do that. The battle has been joined, and Google is likely to be a powerful competitor — and its number one strength is that it doesn’t have a gigantic legacy business model to protect. The more Microsoft tries to accommodate users with a free online product, the more it eats into its massive Office profit margins.
The bottom line for me is that competition is good, and new features that encourage collaboration are good (my friend Paul Kedrosky says he is impressed with Google’s app package — so far). Microsoft has dominated the Office market to the point where there has been virtually no competition, and there hasn’t exactly been a lot of innovation either. If Google can help push things forward and engage in a little creative disruption, so much the better.
It hasn’t gotten quite as much attention as the Office wars, but I think another Google announcement is almost more interesting, and that is the deal with eBay to collaborate on ads and (more importantly) click-to-call features on eBay’s international properties. According to the Yahoo story, this arrangement will involve both Google Talk and Skype. Now that could be interesting.