As Microsoft unbundles Teams, it might not have the impact on Slack you think

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One of nan superior reasons that Slack joined forces pinch Salesforce successful 2021 successful a $28 cardinal woody was to springiness nan communications institution nan clout to compete pinch Microsoft. For years, institution co-founder Stewart Butterfield railed against Microsoft bundling Teams pinch Office 365, calling it anti-competitive and saying astatine 1 constituent that Microsoft was “unhealthily obsessed pinch sidesplitting Slack.”

The institution went truthful acold arsenic to file a complaint against Microsoft pinch nan European Union successful 2020. This morning, Microsoft announced it was yet unbundling Teams from Office 365 successful nan future, though existent customers could proceed to usage nan bundled license.

Butterfield stepped down from Slack astatine nan extremity of 2022, but he seemed little concerned astir Microsoft aft he became portion of nan CRM giant, telling TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos successful 2021 that Teams seemed to beryllium more focused on gathering package for illustration Zoom than Slack, and he wasn’t alert of nan position of nan title his institution revenge earlier becoming portion of Salesforce.

Salesforce, for its part, didn’t person immoderate remark connected nan unbundling announcement, but it’s worthy pointing retired that Microsoft’s bundling strategy seems to person worked rather good pinch nan institution reporting it has complete 320 cardinal users worldwide. It’s difficult to cognize what precisely that intends fixed nan differences successful really nan 2 companies count their users, but it’s clear that Microsoft has opened up a important lead. Compare that pinch Slack, which has 32 cardinal users aliases 10% of Microsoft’s total.

Maybe Butterfield was right, but it’s astir apt excessively precocious to matter. “While Microsoft is unbundling Teams simply to debar an antitrust mess, it’s bully for Salesforce/Slack for sure, but successful galore ways it whitethorn beryllium a pyrrhic victory,” Alan Pelz-Sharpe, laminitis and main expert astatine Deep Analysis told TechCrunch. The marketplace has matured to nan constituent that galore larger firms person made their choice, and since swapping retired solutions isn’t a trivial matter, unbundling Teams is improbable to person an appreciable effect connected marketplace share.

Microsoft’s announcement seemingly allows them to person their barroom and eat it too, keeping their existing customers nether nan existing Office 365 bundling agreement, while charging early customers for utilizing nan product, and presumably giving nan institution an statement pinch regulators that they’ve unbundled Teams and are not successful usurpation of immoderate anti-competition rules..

In fact, Holger Mueller, an expert astatine Constellation Research, says that this could beryllium nan first occurrence wherever an anti-competitive regularisation helps nan vendor’s business. “Microsoft has simply sold Teams to capable companies pinch its existing Office accounts and now nary longer needs nan power and powerfulness of nan endeavor licence agreement,” Mueller said.

What’s more, alternatively than aiding Slack, he sees this arsenic helping Microsoft to get Teams into much accounts wherever companies weren’t buying Office 365 licenses. Redmond tin now waste standalone Teams licenses into non-Microsoft shops overmuch much easily, each while building goodwill pinch regulators, and still sticking it to Slack successful nan stand-alone marketplace battle.

That is astir apt not nan result that Butterfield envisioned erstwhile he started complaining astir Microsoft each those years ago, but nan regulatory result doesn’t ever travel retired successful nan measurement you expect, particularly erstwhile nan marketplace shifts truthful dramatically successful nan intervening years — aliases Microsoft’s bundling strategy simply worked.