Google announced wireless syncing support for the iPhone through ActiveSync, which makes googles calendar, email and address book look like an exchange server from the standpoint of the iPhone. This is significant and here is why.
We use iPhones and we want wireless sync. Until now, there were two solutions for this: MobileMe and Microsoft Exchange. We use Exchange today, but Microsoft Outlook is has been driving me a bit batty lately. It slows down, rebuilds its database far too frequently, and recently the search functionality inside Outlook got an order of magnitude slower (something broke in vista and I don’t know what). What’s more, we need to back it up and use a separate spam service (postini, owned by google) to make email usable.
We would love to move to a cloud-based service for email, contacts and calendar and simultaneously ditch Outlook. But to move Phanfare to google apps, we need wireless sync of our email, address book and calenda to our mobile devices. MobileMe does wireless sync, but they won’t host phanfare.com, so that is a non-starter. Also, Google’s web-based tools are better.
Now with the Google’s sync services, if they work, we could move off Exchange. And if we can move off Exchange, we can move the desktops off Microsoft Windows.
So while this may seem like a minor geeky announcement, it is not. This is a major step forward in allowing businesses to ditch Windows. And Microsoft enabled this by expanding the licensing of ActiveSync.
I applaud Microsoft’s willingness to do this. Google’s new sync service also works with windows mobile devices. It is this type of relentless cannibilization of your own business that is the hallmark of companies that come through disruptive transitions alive. Microsoft sees the writing on the wall with Windows and even with Exchange and they are opening up the ecosystem and competing with their core products.