News & Analysis

G-Suite Touches 2-Billion Monthly Active Users

G-Suite, Google’s office productivity package, now boasts of two billion monthly active users, a figure that should definitely make arch rivals Microsoft sit up and take notice. Of course, there’s still lots of road to cover for the young pretender as the leader is heads and shoulders ahead in the commercial market.

Barely a month ago, Microsoft revealed that more than a quarter of all Office 365 licenses were now sold via Microsoft 365 with the former hitting the 200 million monthly active users in the last quarter of 2019.

At first glance, it may appear as though Google is getting close, but the fact is that G-Suite boss Javier Soltero didn’t really say how many of the two billion subscribers were paid users and went beyond Gmail, which alone accounted for 1.5 billion users. “That’s a staggering number. These products have incredible reach. Changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do,” he said in an interaction with Ina Fried of

G-Suite, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sheets, Drive, Hangouts and Meet, had raised subscription costs by a dollar for Basic and by two dollars for Business at the start of 2019. Now this announcement makes one believe that G-Suite has indeed risen to the slot of archrival for Microsoft Office 365.

But, the reality isn’t all that favorable to Google though it is true that G-Suite is possibly the closest rival to Microsoft, which however dominates the commercial market and is considered Small and Medium Business (SMB) friendly.

Which is what is probably prompting Google to offer more through the G-Suite as part of its COVID-19 activities. Earlier this month, the company announced in a blog post that it would begin rolling out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally.

Besides having larger meetings, for up to 250 participants per call, the app would also provide for live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain and add the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

Ironically, Microsoft teams have been reporting issues with access to their collaborative suite in Europe. As the remote workforce logged into Microsoft Teams on Monday morning, they faced issues related to creating new teams, modifying members, recording meetings and sharing their screens. On its part, Microsoft tweeted that they were working to resolve it.

Soltero knows that the coronavirus pandemic is one occasion where he can push G-Suite to more SMBs who are facing bigger challenges due to the work-from-home social distancing that is prevalent currently. Among the most affected are start-ups who are low on cash but high on demand for services provided by Microsoft and Google.

Soltero, who himself had created and sold mobile email app Accompli to Microsoft, believes that communication and collaboration solutions are nowhere near being a solved problem today. He believes that features like “smart compose” could expand soon to beyond Gmail and Docs, though he doesn’t specify how and where.

However, the one area where both Microsoft and Google are facing bad press revolves around the security aspects. Barely a week ago, the FBI’s internet crime complaint centre (IC3) had alerted US enterprises to possible attacks targeting companies using Microsoft Office 365 and Google G-Suite.

Though warnings around business email compromise (BEC) are dime-a-dozen, this one assumes some significance since it refers to the email services hosted by the two Internet giants as well as the fact that these are used by SMBs with limited IT resources. Between January 2014 and October 2019, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received complaints totalling over $2.1 billion in actual losses from BEC scams targeting Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.

Maybe, Soltero is just using this milestone to prove a point to his former employers Microsoft. The question is does it really matter? Both companies have their niche and can continue to co-exist in a market where small companies and start-ups would continue to mushroom.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the G-Suite boss to work with his former colleagues and find a way around the security threats instead?

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