This morning, Zoho Office, the David to Google Apps’ Goliath, is announcing that it will now be integrated into Google Drive. To be clear, this is not an official partnership between Zoho and Google (Google isn’t that crazy), it’s an integration made possible by way of Google Chrome extensions. There are some challenges with that method, of course, but for those looking for the escape hatch from the Google Docs universe, this may be it.
The benefit to using Google Apps, but also the downside, is that it limits your ability to try other products and services on the market. Everything under Google’s umbrella is integrated to work together – you click on a document in your online cloud storage, it opens in Google Docs; you can click an attachment in your Gmail, and opens it in Google Docs; when you save a file authored in the cloud, it saves to your Google Drive. There’s not much benefit to trying a different, disconnected service once you buy into Google’s suite. There are areas where Google can improve these integrations (Calendar and Contacts jump out at me as lacking), but for the most part, they work well to keep you locked into the entire Google ecosystem.
Zoho, however, is positioning the new Google Drive integration as a challenge to Microsoft, which this week revealed the future of its own Office Suite and online offerings. Like much of Microsoft’s install base, Zoho also targets the corporate and enterprise market with its products. But Google is making its own inroads into these areas – according to Google’s own website, 4 million businesses now use Google Apps, in addition to 40 million active users. Zoho’s business install base is much smaller than that: 6+ million users (that’s users, not businesses), but the lot of those users are business customers, not consumers.