Archive for March, 2011

Google is taking aim at Microsoft’s lucrative Office franchise with the release of a free tool allowing users to transfer files from the widely used software suite to the web so that multiple people can edit and collaborate on them.

The long-anticipated move is intended to bolster one of Google’s fastest-growing businesses not related to its popular search engine — selling online software to companies. The company’s Google Apps offering includes online word-processing, spreadsheet and collaboration tools used through a web browser that are part of a service called Google Docs.

They compete with Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Though Google Apps comes in free and paid versions that are much less expensive than Office, some customers have resisted using them because employees are accustomed to Office.

Google plans to formally introduce the new Google tool, called Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, later this week after releasing it to early testers in November. The company says it takes Office files, uploads them to Google’s servers and gives them a unique Web address so they and can be accessed through Google Docs from any internet-connected device. The files can also be accessed from within Office.

Once the files are on the web — also called the “cloud,” in industry parlance — documents can be shared and simultaneously edited by multiple people, Google says. The tool allows people to comment on documents online and display those comments so they are visible to others, Google says. Cloud Connect is free to individual users and paying customers for Google Apps.

The Google service was first developed by a start-up, DocVerse, which Google acquired last year. DocVerse had sold the software to businesses that collectively had hundreds of thousands of employees.

“It’s like a set of training wheels for the cloud,” says Shan Sinha, a Google product group manager who co-founded DocVerse and was previously a Microsoft employee. He added that “Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle, with this huge weight behind them,” referring Office’s roots on computer hard drives rather than the Web. “We’re able to meet people at the top of the hill,” he said.

Microsoft suggested most users will stick to Office. “People trust Microsoft to provide the best productivity experience on the PC, phone and browser,” said Clint Patterson, director of Microsoft Online Services, in a statement. “While we appreciate that Google is acknowledging the incredible customer demand for Office, used by over 750 million people world-wide, we believe people will find the Cloud Connect experience falls short of meeting their needs.”

Ravi Simhambhatla, vice president of IT and business applications at Tesla Motors, which uses Office, said Cloud Connect could go a long way in winning over businesses that feared they wouldn’t be able to collaborate on documents with business partners who were using Office. “I can see businesses jettisoning their fears” and “readily adopting the Google Apps platform in greater numbers,” he said.

Last year, while at airline Virgin America, Mr Simhambhatla oversaw the company’s move to Google’s email system from Microsoft’s.

Google says more than three million businesses use Google Apps, though many aren’t paying for it. Businesses with 50 or more employees pay a fee of $US50 per year for each user.

In addition to competing vigorously over the business market, Google and Microsoft are vying for contracts to provide local, state and federal government agencies with online software.

Be the first to comment

Microsoft files European complaint about Google

Posted March 31, 2011 By David Kolle

Microsoft said today that it filed a complaint against Google with the European Commission over its anti-competitive practices and domination of the region’s search market.

General Counsel Brad Smith said Microsoft was “concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative.”

Smith added, “We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market.”

The European Union is investigating whether Google, which has a 95 percent share of Europe’s search market, violated the region’s antitrust laws.

Smith accused Google of cordoning off the video-sharing site YouTube and restricting its own advertisers from accessing the data they put in Google’s servers as part of ad campaigns, in a barrier against advertising with rivals.

“Google has engaged in a broadening pattern of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers,” Smith said.

Google said it was “not surprised” that Microsoft filed the complaint.

“We continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we are happy to explain to anyone how our business works,” its spokesman Al Verney said in a statement.

Be the first to comment

BabbleOn has just released their free smartphone application for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

“An application like BabbleOn is the next step in the social media arena, and will certainly revolutionize the way we communicate online,” said Michael Mills, President and founder of BabbleOn. “This application will break down the walls of social media communication and allow users to create voice messages for all to actually hear. For instance, you can sing Happy Birthday to your sister who lives across the country, record your baby’s first words, tell all your friends all at once you just got engaged or just update your status… the possibilities are endless and more efficient and satisfying than typing a message.”

Using the App is just as easy. Simply log on to your Facebook account through the BabbleOn App, press and hold the talk bubble to record then choose to post your message either to your wall or your friend’s wall on Facebook. The BabbleOn App includes:

  • Simple and intuitive user interface.
  • Ability to listen to your babble (recorded message) to determine whether you delete and start over again before posting to Facebook.
  • Provides full access to your friends list on Facebook.
  • Add custom text to babbles.

BabbleOn Technologies Inc. plans to expand the BabbleOn App with the upcoming launch of the online BabbleOn Community (www.BabbleOn.com). The website will allow users to follow friends, celebrities or products and see what all the babble is about as well as mingle and voice opinions on various topics via their computer or smartphone.

Be the first to comment

Beating Apple and Google to the punch, Amazon has unveiled a service that allows users to store their digital music online and play it on a computer or an Android device.

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...

.

With Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, users can upload digital music, photos, videos and documents to Amazon servers and access the files through Web browsers or phones and tablet computers running Google’s Android software.

The Cloud services run on computers equipped with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome Web browsers.

Purchases from Apple’s iTunes or a personal music library can also be uploaded to the digital “music locker.”

Amazon Cloud Drive provides five gigabytes of free online storage to Amazon account holders and a free upgrade to 20GB with the purchase of an MP3 album, the Seattle, Washington-based firm said.

Apple and Google are also reportedly working on similar “cloud” storage solutions for digital music collections but have not announced any plans yet.
Forrester analyst Mark Mulligan said the anticipated Apple and Google services will also allow users to store and stream music on multiple devices.

Amazon’s move is “part of building a long term music revenue relationship with its customers,” he said.

“They’ve lost most of the digital spend of their CD buyers to iTunes and whilst they’ve been aggressive and innovative with their download store it isn’t close to toppling Apple’s iTunes supremacy.

“This lack of a broader music ecosystem has weakened their ability to drive success of their MP3 store,” Mr Mulligan added.

“A locker service is effectively an alternative way to build an ecosystem that ties customers in.”

Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president of movies and music, described the new services as a “leap forward in the digital experience” that “eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music.”

“Our customers have told us they don’t want to download music to their work computers or phones because they find it hard to move music around to different devices,” he continued.

“Now, whether at work, home or on the go, customers can buy music from Amazon MP3, store it in the cloud and play it anywhere.”

1 Comment. Join the Conversation
%d bloggers like this: