Google's valuation now stands at $124 billion. How big is that? For reference, IBM is worth $173 billion. Once the big, friendly St. Bernard of tech companies, Google has turned into Godzilla overnight. And it's better positioned than Microsoft ($204 billion) to capitalize on the Web-centric future, from mobile to social networking to converged TV to cloud computing.
With the E.U. and the FTC breathing down its neck, Google must be careful to avoid pushing its domination of search and online advertising into monopoly territory (the recent $750 million Google acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising startup, seemed to barely squeak by). So what other opportunities for growth does Google see in the near term? The recent Google ad campaign to induce Office users to forget about upgrading to Office 2010 and adopt Google Docs should give you an indication.
[ Read Robert Scheier's article "Can Google really hack it in business?" | Last October, the InfoWorld Test Center pitted Google Docs against Zoho and a beta version of Office Web Apps. ]
Up until now Google hasn't seemed terribly serious about the business software market. Gmail has made some headway in business, but the paid version of Google Apps -- which includes Docs, Gmail, Sites, Wave, and a three-nines SLA for $50 per seat per year -- can't be too successful, because Google still won't say how many customers have gone for it. We keep hearing about the same high-profile wins at Genentech and the city of Los Angeles.
So assuming Google really does want to get serious, why not buy Salesforce.com? When it comes to successful SaaS (software as a service) applications, there's Salesforce.com and everyone else. One big reason is that, unlike most Web-centric companies, Salesforce really knows how to sell applications to business, something Google is just beginning to learn. Plus, thanks to an alliance struck in 2008, Google Apps is already integrated with Salesforce.