IBM’s trying a simple tactic to outwit Google’s business software plans by selling its professional package for a third less in price. For fewer dollars you also get a less capable service, but IBM’s confident that many customers will choose Big Blue.
Why would IBM think it can undercut the mighty Google and achieve a bigger market share? It’s due to its larger sales force, and the inertia from its decades of big-business ties. It’s also a brand that carries a degree of trust and solidity, whereas Google’s public image is youthful and exuberant, and the company hasn’t yet earned a reputation for serious reliability–an important fact when it’s absolutely vital to have a reliable email solution in a business setting.
It’s almost certainly bad news for Google, or at least news that’ll get the company’s business planners deep in thought. Remember that Microsoft is also transferring its Office suite of business productivity apps into the cloud–and making some basic services available for free–which means that Google’s effectively facing a dual-front assault on its ambitions to become a bigger player in the corporate cloud services market. There’s also the new giant Apple data center to think about–no-one’s yet worked out exactly what its for. Apple also offers a strong business productivity suite in iWork, and with the iPhone tied to MobileMe (and now offering enhanced Microsoft exchange support) Apple’s business ambitions could be about to expand.