Years ago the industry used the acronym "NOISE" (Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun and Everyone else) vs. Microsoft. Today we might use the acronym "CAGE" (Cisco, Apple, Google and Everyone else) vs. Microsoft to draw a distinction between vendors focused on use of technology across all facets of digital life and those that still consider digital work to be a separate domain.
With GrandCentral, Google provides "one phone number to rule them all". With Feedburner, Google manages all of your feeds (with Google Reader representing one of the best consumer clients available). With Google Apps, the company provides migration services from legacy e-mail systems to Gmail. A partnership with Avaya perhaps will someday provide some bridging capability into the traditional SIP-based world. Group chat was recently added to GoogleTalk and eventual integration between GoogleTalk and the Marratech video conferencing software Google acquired as well as with GrandCentral's technology is expected at some point. GoogleTalk continues to mature and if adoption continues to grow - Google could very well own presence as well (at least in a consumer sense). Finally, rumors persist on some type of Google phone effort. And what would all this mean if, for instance, Google acquired Facebook? While no clear picture has been articulated by Google as to how all of these efforts come together - the focus on digital work being only one facet of digital life puts Google in an interesting competitive position in the long run.
The same "digital life trumps digital work" argument could be made for Apple - iPhone, iPod, iTunes, iTV, etc. An Apple arrangement with Cisco and/or Google could establish a "digital life" counter to traditional enterprise software solutions that organizations might not be able to (or want to) resist as the workplace becomes more nomadic and workforce demographics continue to shift in favor of younger workers who will bring along with them certain technology expectations.
Cisco also seems to understand the blurring lines between digital life and work but it seems to be moving more pragmatically. The WebEx acquisition provides Cisco with the WebEx Connect platform (a hosted SaaS environment) that could be combined with Cisco's efforts related to social networking. Add to this, Cisco's strengths in networking and unified communications and you can envision how the company can exploit a digital life strategy across its other lines-of-business (especially if it can work out an arrangement with Apple and Google).
Vendors focusing only on enterprise software (e.g., IBM) without a consumer play or vendors that have different (or non-integrated) technology stacks between digital life and digital work (e.g., Microsoft) may find themselves in a precarious position 5-10 years out.
"GrandCentral offers many features that complement the phone services you already use. If you have multiple phone numbers (e.g., home, work, cell), you get one phone number that you can set to ring all, some, or none of your phones, based on who's calling. This way, your phone number is tied to you, and not your location or job. The service also gives you one central voice mailbox. You can listen to your voicemails online or from any phone, forward them to anybody, add the caller to your address book, block a caller as spam, and a lot more. You can even listen in on voicemail messages from your phone while they are being recorded, or switch a call from your cell phone to your desk phone and back again. All in all, you'll have a lot more control over your phones."
- Wesley Chan, Product Manager