Frost & Sullivan: Google to Storm Unified Communications and Collaboration Market?

Google, the California-based search and advertising services giant, has been known to employ aggressive acquisitive strategies towards the domination of new markets. A recent surge of takeovers such as Android, 2Web Technologies, Marratech, GrandCentral, Gzimo5, and other innovative communications and collaboration firms, as well as recently developed and launched products, show that the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) market is one of the Google’s directions. Despite being a new entrant, Google, with its proactive approach, abundant capital and human resources, will very likely become a major UCC participant in the coming years.

“Although Google has not officially announced this strategy,” says Dorota Oviedo, Industry Analyst for Frost & Sullivan Unified Communications & Collaboration group, “it is evident that, by continually adding new UCC applications to its portfolio and focusing on integrating them, the company is effectively entering the UCC market. In recent years, Google’s culture of innovation, numerous acquisitions, and openness to third party developers have resulted in a number of product launches in the UCC space, which in addition to Google Apps included a VoIP service (Google Voice), social media tool (Google Buzz), mobile services (Android) and recently abandoned online collaboration platform (Google Wave)”

At present, available features are not sufficient to make Google the UCC suite of choice for majority of large enterprises; however, the company already provides several synchronous and asynchronous UCC tools, delivered from a cloud as an integrated stack of applications. Accompanied by efficacious pricing, flexibility and ease of use, these tools are hugely appealing to businesses, particularly to small and medium businesses (SMBs). The integration of other, less critical consumer services with enterprise applications will further improve services offered and help in growing the corporate customer base.

“Until recently, Google has not been perceived by enterprise communication and collaboration vendors as serious competition,” adds Iwona Petruczynik, Research Analyst from Unified Communications & Collaboration group, Frost & Sullivan. “UCC vendors typically argue that Google services, being founded on consumer applications, are not suitable for a corporate world and do not form a complete UCC suite. However, they should recognise where Google is heading in the future and how quickly its products are evolving.”

Launched in March 2010, Google Apps Marketplace offers cloud-based applications in various business categories. This online store greatly supports wider adoption of Google Apps with new integrated utilities, offering vertically-specific customisation and expanded functionality. Such integration enables further productivity enhancements, as they leverage existing Google Apps data, such as contacts, calendar availability, and documents across multiple applications.

Moreover, Google is expected to launch the enterprise version of its Google Voice service during late 2010. Google Apps, enhanced with Google Voice and several other consumer applications, will create a very cost-effective UCC package for businesses. By the end of this year, Google Apps will have more than 90 different applications, such as Picasa and Google Reader, offering an abundance of new capabilities.

UCC vendors should closely watch Google and its ever expanding suite of UCC services. By constantly innovating and integrating all its applications and services into one powerful but cost-effective productivity-enhancing business package, the company has already positioned itself as a strong and fast-moving participant of the UCC market.

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