Google just announced two things that could change the computing landscape forever. Seriously, that's not hyperbolic. The first a simple price drop for Google Drive giving users 100GB for 1.99$ per month, 1TB for 9.99$ and up from there. Making cloud storage extremely cheap for the first time. Local storage isn't going away but imagine storing your entire computing life in the cloud. Everything is synced to all of your devices, including apps, settings, even back-ups. The second, and even more revolutionary, is 'Add-ons' for Google Docs and Sheets. Add-ons will hopefully be the start of a bigger trend that I call customized computing. Applications that you control the features of adding and deleting as you need them. It makes it so you only buy the parts of a computer program you need, making them not only cheaper but less bloated and faster. For users this add some functionality and make Google Drive a more viable alternative to something like Microsoft Office but think of how it could change businesses. Business could make custom Add-ons that do exactly what the company needs. I really hope customized computing catches on with the mainstream public because it could really change the world.
How This Changes The Computing Landscape
Google is changing the computing world into what it thinks it should be, ever connected to the internet with your files in the cloud. Add-ons seriously bolsters Google Drive and will make it a serious option for document and spreadsheet creation. Googles services are already some of the best out there and in many cases leave their major competitors in the dust. Add-ons only strengthen this position. Unless companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung get it together and up their services game. If they don't in 20 years it will be a Google world, either one where almost everyone uses their products and/or services or one where we have become slaves to Googles robots. At this point I'd say it's a coin toss. The competition should be very scared by the Add-on and price drop announcements. Google Drives price drop seems on the surface to be a direct act of war against smaller storage companies like Dropbox, Box, Bitcasa, etc because the can't match that price. However, I think Microsoft has more to worry about than the the smaller services do. So why should Microsoft be shitting their pants with fear? Microsoft makes its money predominantly from two sources, its Business division (Office) and licensing Windows to OEM's. Traditional computer sales are falling, although will probably plateu sometime soon, and Windows Phone isn't selling that well yet. Let's be clear they still make money hand over fist but Google is setting up a world where Microsoft becomes irrelevant.
Chromebooks, Android and Drive Take Microsofts Marketshare
Google has it's fingers in a lot of pies and it seems intent on making a more connected world. A noble aspiration especially with all the work they are doing with poorer countries. They are changing the way we use computers and think about computing. Their Chromebooks, seen as an absolute joke when launched, are turning into legitimate computers for many people. Google doesn't charge a licensing fee for Chrome OS so OEM's are using it more and more for low end devices. Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella has already responding by lowering it's Windows licensing price for budget machines. A stop-gap but one that will buy a bit of time before things like mobile devices or Chromebooks completely replace peoples PC's. Side note: Chromebooks could turn out like netbooks but I think with the maturing of the web, the price, and the form factor they will sell well in the budget category. Especially as we transition to mobile. This should scare the shit out of Microsoft. I'll use former me as an example. Former Me was a tech illiterate person who used my computer for the web browser and games. If I had to write a report for school I used Office because it came with my computer. The thought of looking for an alternative didn't even cross my mind. I would bet a large portion of the world is like Former Me and if the Chromebook/Mobile becomes a viable option for all of their computing needs, which it will be soon if it isn't already, they are going to use Google Docs rather than Office, and Google services rather than Microsofts. This is the nail in the coffin of Microsofts dreams of a consumer marketshare. The Chromebook and shift to mobile takes away both of Microsofts main profit sources. To make it even worse, for smaller businesses that use Microsoft Office today, Google Drive Add-ons will make paying for an Office 365 subscription a waste of money. They can create custom Add-ons that do exactly what they need without the bloat of Office. I hope Microsoft becomes a serious contender in the consumer market, the more competition the better, but from where I am sitting it looks bleak.
A New Hope For Microsoft: CEO Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella just took the CEO position and is a breath of fresh air from Microsoft. He "get's it." At one of his first public speaking events he laid out the need for a focus on mobile and the cloud. This is the future and the head of Microsoft finally realizes he can't rely on Windows forever. I have very high hopes for him and the my initially impression is that this guy is going to shake things up and make Microsoft a viable contender against Apple and Google in the mobile space. It is going to be hard especially with the damage Balmer did in the consumer space. A confession: I don't like Steve Balmer, I think he focused on short term profits, rested on the laurels of Windows, and should not have been the public face of the company. He made billions but I think he maneuvered Microsoft out of a spot as a computing leader, if not today than in the near future. Satya has to reverse the ill feelings or plain indifference many people built towards the Microsoft of the Balmer era. He has years if not decades of legacy cash coming in from Office and licensing Windows but he has to make some fundamental shifts in where Microsoft makes money if he wants it to survive the coming mobile age.