A new gorilla wakes

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was publicly ridiculing Google Docs as recently as May 2008. This may prove premature.

As I have written before, the killer app in Google Apps is not its dubious Word or Excel knockoff, but rather the fantastic hosted email. Anyone who spends a week on Google Apps email will never go back, it’s that simple. The key functions — massive storage, instantaneous search, and bulletproof spam detection — run circles around Microsoft Exchange Server and everything else. Not even close. Please don’t bother disputing this unless you’ve tried it.

Spam detection now enjoys network effects, because Google employs group intelligence to detect spam. If you spam Google Apps email, thousands of recipients will instantly mark it as spam, and the message will be rejected for all remaining recipients. The more Google users, the better it gets.

Google’s dominance in email appears foregone. Does that matter? Yes, because whenever you receive a Word or Excel attachment through Google mail, you now see an “Import to Google Apps” button.

Conclusion: Google Apps hosted email has moved upstream from Microsoft Office.

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