3rd world: Google vs Microsoft; Free vs Rent; Who wins?

Google is continuing with the expansion of its Office suite overseas by giving out the products for free to university students in Rwanda and Kenya. As part of the agreement announced today, Google will give out its “cute” products including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets. All these apps will supposedly be accessed by thousands of students in these countries. Google is already providing similar service to the students at Northwestern, and Arizona State University.

On the other hand Microsoft has been going on with its faint-hearted efforts for world good by giving out Microsoft Office 2003 through “pay-as-you-go” rental program in South Africa, Mexico and Romania. I wonder who really going to use the paid “full-featured” apps from Microsoft once Google invades Microsoft’s territories overseas. Let’s take the 80-20 rule. Even by the best estimates, only 20% of the “highly-functional” features in Microsoft Office are used 20% of the users. On the other hand 80% of “cute” features in Google Apps would be used by 80% of the users. Now guess who would like to pay Microsoft when they don’t have the bucks to pay in the first place and for the features they don’t need.

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