A few days ago, Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt and Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy held a mid-morning press conference to announce a distribution partnership between the two online giants. For those who watched or listened to the media event, details of the deal have not been fully filled-out. What was revealed leaves a lot of room for speculation but two things are clear, Google is gunning for Microsoft, using the Java Sun Microsystems as its muscle, and Google’s strategy goes far beyond pushing Microsoft around.
The news out of the press conference at first glance seemed simple and anti-climatic. Under the terms of the deal, the Google Toolbar will be bundled into downloads of the Java Runtime Environment. Java will be used to power new software developed and released by Google, effectively endorsing Java and nailing Microsoft’s .Net as an emerging development platform.
The Internet is emerging as the basic operating platform for much of the software used by online consumers. Take the email programs offered by any one of the major search engines for example. These email accounts are web-based. All individual emails are stored on massive servers and accessed by account holders via the web. Those familiar with Gmail should think about how their email is presented to them before reading further. Note the ads placed to the right.
For Google, getting their toolbar installed on as many computers as possible is an important business strategy. CEO Eric Schmidt believes Google could add tens of millions of customers through Java downloads helping Google monetize it’s toolbar by selling more paid-advertisements. Adding millions of new Google users also bolsters Google in its fight against MSN and Yahoo for branded membership-based clients.
Future updates of the Google Toolbar might include links to Sun software that directly competes with Microsoft software such as the popular (and free) Open Office suite that provides an alternative to the expensive MS Office suite.
Both Google and Sun have pushed for open source development in a bid to hinder Microsoft in several fields. By teaming up together, the two seem prepped to deliver a challenge Bill Gates and Co. have never had to face before. With a growing number of advertisers footing the bill, Google doesn’t need to charge for its software. That software is less expensive to develop and support due to the public participatory nature of open source programming.
Add the alliance with Sun Microsystems to the dozens of other features, tools and initiatives introduced by Google over the last year, and it is easy to see why Microsoft is worried about Google. Expect a lot more to come from this announcement in the near future.