Mike Isaac

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With a Slew of App Updates, Google Continues Its Crusade for the Enterprise

If there was one company in Google’s sights on the second day of its I/O developers conference on Thursday, it was Microsoft. Sundar Pichai, SVP of Chrome and Apps, was eager to remind us of the many ways that Google’s enterprise apps suite rules over the Redmond giant’s offerings.

In the 5 years since Google released Gmail to the public, for instance, the app has grown to reach 425 million monthly active users. Governmental agencies in 45 out of 50 U.S. states are using Google apps, as well as more than 66 universities and five million businesses across the U.S.

As always, Pichai and the apps team pride themselves on the platform’s collaborative properties. Chrome’s synchronicity across devices, Google docs’ realtime updates, and precious, precious speed: Chrome’s speed, Pichai says, saves more than 13 years of human productivity over the course of a lifetime.

“Try doing that with Sharepoint,” Pichai said.

After years of rumors and leaks, Google Drive finally launched weeks ago, and the app is spreading across platforms fairly quickly. Google Drive hit the 10 million user mark and is slated to appear on iOS and iPad on Thursday, the first appearance on Apple’s mobile platform.

Google is also pushing its Chromebooks, the low-cost, web-focused laptops powered by Chrome OS. The new generation of Samsung Chromebooks launched three weeks ago, touting more powerful specs and faster performance than last year’s generation. Google will soon begin selling Chromebooks in more than 100 Best Buy retail locations across the U.S., continuing to seed the landscape with the fledgling platform. (It also helps that Google will give all the developers attending I/O a free Chromebox.)

And, of course, Pichai and his team continue to push the Chrome browser: Usage of the platform has exploded over the past year, with more than 300 million active users, nearly double the number from only a year ago. That number most likely has nowhere to go but up, considering Google announced it is bringing Chrome to iOS devices beginning on Thursday.

Then there was Google Compute Engine, which takes a direct shot at Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and also at Amazon Web Services. It’s a textbook infrastructure-as-a-service play that shows how readily and quickly Google can scale up and down on demand. There are still a lot of details yet to be disclosed about how the service will work and as yet it’s only for early customers on a trial basis.

But the places where Google and Microsoft are not competing head to head are growing fewer by the day.

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