Microsoft just launched Office 2010 to great fanfare, and quietly slipped in a new free online version. It looks like they may have finally realized that if they don’t cannibalize their core business with a web based offering, Google will. Has the sleeping giant over in Redmond finally awoken, and can they defend their biggest cash cow from the future?
Some analysts say Google’s online offering can’t compete with Microsoft’s. They have no idea.
We’ve been tracking the usage habits of hundreds of thousands of our users over the last two years, and you can clearly see that Google has managed to increase their daily reach from around 59% to 79%. On the other hand, Microsoft Office has been steadily shedding users, losing about 9% of our population.
To get an idea of how relatively important each application in these suites are, here is a graph showing the full gamut.
Communication makes up about 18% of all computer usage. Google proved you could do email in the cloud not only competitively, but for free. Outlook and Gmail dominate these two companies’ suites in terms of unique daily users. Gmail managed to increase their slice of the pie about 3%, while Outlook lost about 6% of the total. That’s a 21% relative decline for Microsoft vs 7% relative growth for Google in arguably the single most important software sector. Microsoft loses its integration advantage when people stop using big pieces of the suite, which may help explain the synergistic decline of Outlook and Excel. It’s also interesting to note that Word and PowerPoint have been relegated to a tiny fraction of our users who seem to greatly prefer Google Docs.
If that was the whole story, things might look pretty grim for Redmond, and it’s no wonder they’re being forced to respond to web based offerings. However, there is at least one more way to consider the data, and that’s in terms of the amount of time spent in particular applications, not just the number of people using them.
It’s clear again that email is the most important component in both companies portfolios, but even though Gmail has about double the users, the smaller population of Outlook users spend more time emailing than all the Gmail users put together. Today, Outlook is the preferred weapon of choice for heavy users, but if I were an exec at Microsoft, I’d be paying very close attention to the direction those blue and red lines move from here on out. You might also notice that in terms of spreadsheet usage, there is really only 1 option.
About the data:
RescueTime provides a time management tool to allow individuals and businesses to track their time and attention to see where their days go (and to help them get more productive!). We have hundreds of millions of man hours of second-by-second attention data from hundreds of thousands of users around the world, tracking in real time both inside and outside the browser. We selected annual date boundaries for this set, to help reveal seasonal variations in usage, like the holiday dip in productivity.
About our software:
If you want to see how productive you are vs the rest of our users, you should check out our product tour. We offer both individual and group plans (pricing starts at FREE).