TOW: Group 38 – Battle of The Suites: Google Apps vs. Office 365

Screenshot 2015-10-05 13.07.51


Cloud computing is rapidly changing how people use and interact with software. Online cloud-services offer a variety of benefits for both commercial and personal users, such as increased convenience, reliability, decreased hardware costs… In 2006, Google joined the movement with the launch of Google Docs, the company’s first shot at the productivity suites market (Biswas, 2011). Microsoft had been the dominating force in this industry with its renown Office product line. Recently however, Google used the rise of the cloud to enter the market with Google Apps, and managed to capture parts of Microsoft’s market share.

Both companies apply cloud computing to the underlying infrastructure of their productivity suites. Google Apps is a software-as-a-service all-in-one suite that serves four purposes with its products: Communication (Gmail, Hangouts, Agenda, Google+), Storage (Google Drive), Collaboration (Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, Sites), and Management (Google Vault, Admin) (Google, 2015). All of these are cloud-based and accessible when an Internet connection is available. Office 365 is a group of productivity software and services with online and offline elements introduced by Microsoft in 2011. It includes access to a group of proprietary software applications that can be installed on almost any device and different operating systems (e.g. Windows, OS X, iOS, Android), as well as cloudbased replicas with cloud storage. These include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the storage platform OneDrive.

The main differences are characterized by the type of features, functionalities, scope, and most importantly, pricing models. Microsoft focuses on subscription pricing and offering a high-quality, tailored and flexible product line. With ten different plans, ranging from a free subscription to a yearly fee of $264, they offer the most solutions.   In contrast, Google focuses on the simplicity of their offer, and on-boarding many customers via their freemium model. There is also the possibility to upgrade your suite with 2 subscription plans: Apps and Apps+.

Predicting who will “win” in the productivity suite industry is difficult and affected by many factors. Microsoft has been the market leader for decades, and Google used the rise of cloud technology to enter the market with a lower-end product, based on ease-of-use and low cost. Thus far, Google has mainly targeted the consumer market and became a competitive player within this market. In the very near future, they will compete head-on with Microsoft for enterprise clients. According to the Head of Google for Work, it is now “ready to scale the business to enterprise clients” (Bort, 2015).

It is however not probable that Google will eliminate Microsoft as a competitor in the long run. Microsoft has an enormous customer base, and has begun offering cloud-services as well as a freemium model. Both firms will need to continuously tailor their products and business models to the changing and diverse consumer needs. Microsoft, seeks to retain their position as the market leader, while Google desires to disrupt the industry by utilizing the rise of the cloud as their differentiator.



Martin Kayser              353884mk
Benedikt Kolbert         353958bk
Kiki Huang                   354902kh
Michal Floss                 356166mf
Thomas Gratzmuller  357457tg


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