If your business uses Microsoft Office, Google will pay you to switch to its Google Apps for Work package of competing software. If you desert Microsoft, Google will give you free use of Google Apps for Work, which usually costs between $5 and $10 per user each month.
Google appears to be targeting companies and government agencies that currently pay for Microsoft's suite of word processing, e-mail, calendar, spreadsheet and other programs, although it didn't mention Microsoft or any other vendor by name.
The price of Google Apps for Work will be waived for the duration of defecting customers' existing contracts with Microsoft or any other supplier. The offer is open for the next six months in the United States, and will be available in other countries eventually, though Google isn’t saying when.
The free access to Google Apps for Work is restricted to no more than 3,000 users per customer. Hypothetically, if a company with 3,000 employees takes advantage of the offer instead of paying for Google Apps for Work, Google could stand to lose around $500,000 in a year (the suite has different rates per user on its monthly and annual contracts). When their contracts are up, Google will pay businesses up to $75,000 (or up to $25 per user) to cover the costs of making the change to Google Apps fro Work.
We reached out to Rajeev Sawhney, the president of strategic business at Mphasis, an IT services provider, who applauded the move by Google. He noted that entry barriers to new systems can be prohibitive for larger enterprises because of issues around compliance and corporate standards.
"It’s great to see some assertive moves being made by Google to woo Microsoft enterprise clients to [Google Apps for Work]," said Sawhney. "My personal experience is that the entry barriers to enterprise clients is generally quite high. Small and medium-sized companies may get lured, but the larger ones won’t happen in a hurry."
Google didn’t say how much it has budgeted for this attempt to lure away customers from other providers. It did say, though, that more than 600 companies have at least 10,000 employees using Google Apps for Work software.
One Year Required
Part of the reason for the full-on assault is that companies tend to be signed up for long-term volume licensing contracts with Google competitors such as Microsoft, leaving those customers available for recruiting only when those contracts are up for renewal. That’s why Google is offering the enterprise edition of Google Apps for free for the duration of existing contracts.
Companies that take advantage of Google’s offer must agree to year-long commitments to pay for Google Apps for Work once their contracts with other providers have expired. When they have fulfilled their commitments, they can pay on a month-to-month basis, and feel free switch away from Google Apps for Work if they so choose. Microsoft also lets Office clients pay month by month, but it does requires that users of its enterprise plan sign an annual contract for Office 365.
Companies that switch will not only get the basic office tools in Google Apps for Work, but also access to the collaboration tools that Google has long been working on, as well as a cross-platform, cloud-based collaboration system that workers can use for synching, storing and working on files together.