Gutsy Microsoft offers rebates to Kiwi businesses that switch from Google Apps to Office 365

Microsoft New Zealand is throwing down the gauntlet and challenging Google via a new campaign that will offer Kiwi small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) using Google apps a $25-per-user rebate if they purchase Office 365 before 30 April 2015 and switch before 31 May.

Frazer Scott, the director of marketing and operations for Microsoft New Zealand, acknowledged it was an aggressive move, but added that it was an important market for the company to take hold of. 

“In New Zealand, SMBs account for 97 percent of businesses,” says Scott.

And, according to Scott, these businesses have already shown a willingness to sign up for Office 365, with New Zealand leading the world in adoption of the interface—a statistic that also serves to explain why the campaign has first been launched in New Zealand, rather than in other larger markets.

Although he would not specify what Microsoft’s overall share of the Kiwi market is, Scott says that in last three years cloud computing software has grown from zero to representing 50 percent of Microsoft’s revenue in the SMB market.  

Recently, Microsoft signed a major deal with AUT University that gives all students enrolled at the institution access to Office 365. The company will hope that other Kiwi companies follow suit and ditch Google Apps in favour of its service. 

In New Zealand, Google currently lists Xero, New Zealand Post, Fairfax, Countdown, Barfoot & Thompson and Auckland University as clients, all included within a broader international customer portfolio that features more than 600 organisations with over 10,000 active Google Apps users.  

But although Google could be said to hold a virtual monopoly when it comes to search engines, Scott points out that the app and cloud-computing markets are very competitive and that Microsoft is very comfortable going toe to toe with its tech counterpart.

The new campaign has been activated via a microsite called OfficeSwitch that provides a three-step guide on how to switch.

The final execution came about as part of a collaborative effort between the local and international arms of Microsoft, with most of the work having been done in-house locally. Scott says that aim is to roll it out in several international markets in the near future.  

Scott adds that the campaign will also introduce an additional perk to Microsoft’s sales partners by offering a 20 percent discount on packages sold through Open Licensing Partner or Vodafone New Zealand.           

“Microsoft values its New Zealand partners highly and we see this strong competitive campaign as a very healthy thing for cloud affordability, which is great for both our partners and our customers,” he says.

For many SMBs, which might not large wads of disposable income, the final decision about switching will however come down to long-term affordability. And when it comes to pricing, the options offered by Google and Microsoft differ substantially.

Google has opted for simplicity, offering a basic option (with limited storage) for $5 per month per user or a more expensive membership (with unlimited storage) for $10 per month. Microsoft, on the other hand, provides its business subscribers with a range of six options that vary from $5 to $20 per user per month.

Asked whether Microsoft would consider simplifying its pricing structure further, Scott said that it would depend on the international head office and that Microsoft was currently focused on giving its business users as much flexibility as possible. 

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