In my Oct 29 blog, I joked about Microsoft merging with Google. Yesterday, I got a Forester Research Update stating unequivocally that “Among the four large software vendors, Microsoft has been the least active in making significant acquisitions of midsize or large vendors, and we don't expect that to change.”
Of course, what $44B proves beyond any doubt (no news here) is that Microsoft views Google as a major threat (while Google has over 90% share of search in some EEC countries, I’m sure that Google has an eye on Microsoft as well).
Who else is on Microsoft’s competitive radar screen? Two companies come to mind: IBM and Cisco.
IBM is a key broad competitor for Microsoft, because
1) The email market is roughly split between Lotus Notes and Exchange;
2) IBM has more Sametime IM clients in production than Microsoft, though Microsoft is growing faster in this space with their Office Communicator;
3) Both companies see UC as a part of the broader collaboration space, including document handling and project management;
4) IBM’s Websphere is a clear leader in SOA frameworks, a key enabler of communications-enabled business applications; and
5) Both companies are software-centric power houses.
Cisco is a key competitor for Microsoft (and increasingly for IBM) initially in UC, because
1) Cisco is a marketing power house (as is Microsoft);
2) Cisco is leveraging its networking dominance by building vertically integrated UC systems;
3) Cisco wants to dominate the UC desktop;
4) Cisco acquired WebEx as their entry into the web collaboration space; and
5) Cisco is trying to reposition itself as a software company.
So will Micro-hoo dislodge Google in search; and will Microsoft and IBM keep Cisco off their desktops in the UC space? What do you think?