Recently we have seen a build in momentum in the cold war between Google and Microsoft. As both companies bid for our productivity dollars, the war is heating up.
Recent evidence to this is the move by Google to stop offering a Microsoft-owned online service that syncs calendars, emails and contacts with mobile devices on new Gmail and Google Apps accounts from 30 January 2013. Google pays Microsoft a licence fee for each Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) connection and has decided to replace it with a free alternative.
This move has been seen by many in the Microsoft camp to be a shot across the bow in the war of connectivity and productivity platforms.
Google wrote in a company blog:
Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols. Starting January 30, 2013, consumers won’t be able to set up new devices using Google Sync; however, existing Google Sync connections will continue to function. Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education. Users of those products are unaffected by this announcement.
Many have seen this as an attack on the Windows phone platform. Windows Phone doesn’t currently have inbuilt support for either CalDAV and CardDAV, and currently only supports POP/IMAP and Exchange Activesync.
We were very surprised to see Gmail announce last week that they’ll soon end support for Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), unless of course you’re willing to pay Google for your email. It means that many people currently using Gmail for free are facing a situation where they might have to degrade their mobile email experience by downgrading to an older protocol that doesn’t sync your calendar or contacts, doesn’t give you direct push of new email messages and doesn’t have all the benefits of Exchange ActiveSync.
- Any current Exchange ActiveSync connections will continue to work
- Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education
- Google offers open source, free-to-use protocols providing connections to your mail, contacts and calendars.
- New Windows phone users will now only have access to POP/IMAP email or can use the browser to access their mail, contacts and calendars.
Google is currently going through a phase in ramping up their enterprise offerings. They have had a lot of recent wins in the mobility and productivity space.
- Gmail and Maps applications for iOS Devices
- Large wins with Google Apps for Business both APAC and US
- Introduction of Google Vault and Google Drive
- Android becoming the largest market share smartphone platform
- Google Chrome browser becoming the number 1 browser
- Large Google Chromebook sales in the US
Google is also going through a “springclean”. They are working out which products and services, should be dropped or that can be done better. Google is looking to ensure that investments are being made in the right places and have recently stopped providing free Google Apps for Business Accounts on one hand while releasing great iPhone and iPad apps for Gmail, Google+, Google Drive, Chrome (which is number two among smartphone platforms).
Google believes in open source and open standards. Removing Exchange ActiveSync will have hurt more Gmail users then Windows mobile users. Google has a history of investing in platforms where they see 90 percent of the user base, unfortunately Microsoft is nowhere to be seen in smartphone subscriptions (US) market. This is also a play to make sure users get more attuned with the Google ecosystem.
The savings on Exchange ActiveSync licences and the increased revenue from Google Apps for Business accounts will allow Google to start to really be competitive in this space.