Google admits it can’t take corporate customers from Microsoft. Yet.

September 3, 2014
September 3, 2014

There’s just no beating Microsoft when it comes to getting business from business. Enterprise customers have been using Microsoft’s Windows-Intel machines for decades, and their computers are encrusted with custom-built software that works only on those systems. Besides, Microsoft will fight any newcomers tooth and nail. Some 85% of its business comes from this part of the market, says James Gautrey, a technology and telecom analyst at Schroders, a large asset manager.

Now Google is finally acknowledging that there’s no point trying to get slow-moving firms to change their IT infrastructure, and is setting its growth sights elsewhere. Yesterday, the company changed the name of its business-to-business offerings from the stodgy, corporate-sounding “Google Enterprise” to the more straightforward, and less pretentious, “Google for Work.”

The video the company put out makes clear where its focus lies.

Note the t-shirt-wearing employees (screengrab above), the required investment of half a million dollars, and the idea of “fresh starts, kickstarts, restarts.” It’s an enterprise offering for start-ups, not for full-fledged enterprises.

The strategy reset indicates where Google sees growth coming: from a slice of the market that already is relatively receptive to the company’s offerings. Here are the findings of a recent Quartz analysis of the email providers for the 50 biggest companies in the US, 50 medium-size tech and media firms, and 50 recent Silicon Valley startups incubated at Y-Combinator:

Tap image to zoom

The change in name is just a way of signaling what the trend already shows: If Google can’t steal away today’s customers, it can at least fight for tomorrow’s.

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