Microsoft and Google have seen their rivalry kicked up a notch in recent weeks. First, Google announced Chrome OS, the company’s first operating system. Then Microsoft announced the new version of Office with major cloud app support. Then Microsoft announced its deal to take over Yahoo’s search business. Starting today, Google is back on the offensive, with a major promotional campaign to get the word out about organizations switching to Google apps for their daily computing needs.
The campaign, called “Going Google,” has a very clear target: Microsoft Office. A series of advertisements [disclosure: including on this blog] will begin touting how and why some 3,000 organizations are signing up to use Google apps each day. But the crown jewels of this campaign will be billboards on four major U.S. highways that will give a new message about Google apps everyday for a month.
The billboards will be placed on the 101 in San Francisco, the West Side Hwy in New York, the Ike in Chicago, and Mass Pike in Boston. Google says that the vinyl being used to create these new messages each day will be recycled or reused into either computer bags or shopping bags.
Google says that so far over 1.75 million businesses, schools and organizations have signed up to use the various combinations of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and the other Google apps. But that is of course a drop in the bucket compared to the number of companies that use Microsoft Office and its other enterprise solutions. Now, Google is clearly trying to be proactive in telling people why its solution is better before Office goes online in a big way with the 2010 version.
Google is also attempting to use the viral message platform of choice these days to spread the “Going Google” message: Twitter. At the bottom of its blog post on the matter, Google urges people that use its apps to “Tweet your story” and provides a link to auto-populate a tweet with the #gonegoogle hashtag. You can also follow the GoogleAtWork Twitter account to follow the Gone Google stories.
It has also set up a site to “Spead the word” about Going Google. This is similar to what Mozilla has long been doing to promote Firefox — and it’s worked to the tune of over a billion downloads. The site has a range of options for letting your company or organization know that you want it to “Go Google,” including things like fliers and pre-populated emails to send out.
And Google is also promising to give away “goodies” each week in August to users who have Gone Google and fill out a Google Doc describing their experience.
Will any of this work? Who knows. But I know that I can’t wait to see how Microsoft responds in this back-and-forth war. “Stay With Office” blimps, perhaps?