In the past three days, Google has made two announcements that are creating new disruptions. One of them — a new Office 365 to Google Apps referral program — seems specifically designed to annoy Microsoft, while the other, the release of third-party add-ons to Google Apps, adds additional functionality.
Google Drive Add-Ons
Google has added a new tab to Google Docs and Sheets to make it easier to get stuff done. In a blog post this week, Saurabh Gupta, product manager at Google Drive, announced the add-ons — "new tools created by developer partners that give you even more features in your documents and spreadsheets."
All you have to do is download the apps from the tab on the drop-down menu on the toolbar.
The add-ons are designed to provide added functionality — including mail merging from Mailchimp, label printing from Avery and fax support from Hello Fax.
It also adds a useful approval feature with Letter Feed Workflows, which routes your document to the right people and adds a simple “Approve” button right inside your document or spreadsheet.
Other add-ones offer support for instant bibliographies (shown in the image above), mind mapping, change tracking, Twitter curation and acronym logging, with more promised soon.
Google Bounty Hunters
The other announcement this week — the one bound to infuriate Microsoft — involves a referral program that offers cash to Google App users who can persuade users of other productivity products to switch to Google.
While Google doesn’t specifically mention that it's targeting Microsoft Office or Office 365 users, you can read between the lines. According to the blog by Prajesh Parekh, Google apps marketing , Google is offering a finders fee of $15 for every user who makes the jump.
If you can convince the director of a small company or even a medium sized company — both business spaces where Google already has strong traction — then you’re looking a quite a nice little sum of money. Parekh wrote:
Many of the millions of Google Apps customers learned about tools like Hangouts, Drive and Gmail for business from their customers, friends and networks. To help continue the momentum, we’re launching the Google Apps Referral Program. The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they too can use these tools at work. To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer."
Ready To Jump?
Nothing provides more incentive than easy money, so it will interesting to see how many people make the jump, particularly in light of the growing functionality Google is developing across Google Drive.
However, in terms of business, unless Google Drive offers all the functionality of a productivity suite like Microsoft Office, it is unlikely money will be enough.
Still, it should be noted that Google Apps have developed significantly in the past couple of years. The increased functionality may be enough to satisfy many workers. It could easily be argued that Office and Office 365 are too heavy for many people and that much of the functionality they offer goes unused by many people.
On top of this, current business subscriptions for other productivity suites are, on average, about three times more expensive than Google Apps. So for a company that wants to save money as well as capitalize on a product its workers are actually using, switching could represent a considerable saving.
With Microsoft firmly embedded in many businesses of all sizes, it remains to be seen whether the potential savings will outweigh the disruption involved in moving from system to another.
Google Apps probably hasn’t arrived at the point where it can convince organizations to move purely on the basis of functionality, hence the referral program. But the tipping point where the functionality alone makes the argument must be close. Where that point lies is what both Microsoft and Google are both trying to figure out and reach. In the meantime, users win as both companies push the boat out in terms of functions and pricing.