Microsoft Office: Winning at B2B and B2C

I've been thinking more and more about how and why consumer technology is so far ahead of enterprise technology.  There are a variety of reasons why, though as I've said, I believe that the primary reason is simply that it can be; i.e. the "B2B" structure simply allows businesses that are focused on the enterprise to get away with less than cutting edge technology and products (i.e. a good Biz Dev team just needs to sell a few people on the product and those people force their employees to use it). That said, there are certainly exceptions.  Take Microsoft Office for example.  An almost ubiquitous enterprise product that is used in the office and at home.   Employees use the product in the office and they like it so much that they buy it for their home computer.  By creating an awesome product, Office has been able to dominate both the B2B and B2C markets.  This is an amazing accomplishment when you think about it.  To do this they have to have the unique combination of an elite Biz Dev team and an elite product/engineering team.

Of course, Google Docs and other web-based applications are legitimate competitors to Office and are taking market share.  As more and more users begin using Google Docs at home you could see them demanding that their IT departments switch over to the enterprise version.  To obviate this, Microsoft has created a "Home Use Program" where they offer their enterprise users Microsoft Office Professional for use at home for only $9.95 (the same product goes for ~$382 on Amazon).

A very smart and probably necessary pricing strategy to help Microsoft keep their unique stronghold on both the B2B and B2C markets.