I read in an Information Week article today that Google has revealed a major part of its strategy to provide online office tools for small business through a program called Google Apps for Your Domain. Right now the program, still in beta, will allow users to brand GMail, Google Talker, Google Calendar and Google Web Page Creator to use with their own domains. Plans call for the integration of Writely and Google Spreadsheet.
It appears that instead of talking Microsoft head on they are launching a strategy that is focused squarely on the online collaboration aspect of the business. They will give users lots of storage and bring tools for better online work and collaboration. I don’t think they will ever fully strip into much of the installed office product base that Microsoft has, but I do think they will offer some very useful services for those ready to adopt online collaboration in a big way. Microsoft seems to have drug its feet in this arena, partly because it has the potential to erode some of its own profitable products. Self cannibalization has been many a software providers required path.
I can’t help but also pointing out much lesser known upstart Zoho. They have a real uphill battle but right now seem to be offering the best online virtual office solutions.