What do you do once your business gets so big that you have to branch out to continue growing? If you’re Google, you try new things like making mobile phones, and hope for hits rather than misses. Or you can go the way Apple went, taking the iPod Touch, making it really big, and calling the iPad something “new”.

Or you can buy one competitor’s product to become more of a force against another competitor. While not strictly coopetition, Google enacted yet another business change last month when they bought DocVerse.

DocVerse is a great idea, and I applaud the guys who built it if for no other reason than it was a pretty obvious acquisition target. The Internet-based document collaboration service lets you share Microsoft Office files with others and work on them on-line, and Microsoft should have been smart enough to buy it before Google did.

Sadly, Redmond has fallen behind Palo Alto in forward thinking, and it somehow didn’t occur to Microsoft that buying DocVerse would have been cheaper than doing all the Office Online development themselves, and even more importantly would have kept this jewel out of Google’s hands.

Remember that the name of the game on the Internet is keeping people engaged as long as possible in as many ways as possible, and Google already has people giving up on Microsoft Office in droves, in favor of storing and working on their documents “in the cloud” using Google Docs. DocVerse adds to that dominance and renders much of Microsoft’s work on the about-to-be-launched online version of Microsoft Office look like a waste of time.

Where’s the coopetition angle? Google is:

  • using Microsoft Office’s heretofore dominant position in Office documents creation for their own gain
  • making a success out of a small company by acquiring DocVerse
  • giving anyone who can write further extensions to the system an opportunity to do so that Microsoft doesn’t make nearly as easy
  • extending their reach as the world’s largest advertising agency

Business Change comes in many forms. Coopetition — knowing when to join with someone instead of trying to beat them — is a business change that can be used effectively by both the large and the small.

Are you practicing coopetition? Let The Answer Guy show you how.

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