Microsoft today announced that after 2 years, their Office Live Small Business app had broken through the million subscriber mark. With one million businesses now managing their website, email and documents using OfficeLive, Microsoft have firmed up their position as a provider of online tools for the small business market against competition from Google and a host of others.
At the same time today over at Pingdom they noticed that the search mind-share for ‘web hosting’ is continuing its downward trend. Generic hosting seems to be on it’s way out – the type of hosting that can be purchased from GoDaddy, 1&1 and many others where the basic plan offers a control panel, a shared host and some bandwidth.
Generic hosting is not only being replaced by services such as Office Live and Google Apps, but for personal user networks such as WordPress.com and Blogger. For an SMB, there are a number of easy options available that require little development work and setup time with integration into other applications such as document management. The downward trend in generic hosting in favor of more specialized and integrated platforms will also definitely cut into the SMB web development market, as each of these solutions provide default templates that are easily branded and customized with a corporate identity.
With a million customers over at Microsoft and Google winning large contracts for million-plus user Gmail installs, the battle for the online app hosting in the SMB space is certainly only getting started. While Google have apps for domain, they are yet to fully integrate some of their other properties into the service such as Google Pages. Concurrently, Microsoft are yet to rollout, or even confirm or deny the existance or planning for a full web-based office application suite, but it is undoubtedly in the pipeline.