Why Google Calendar integration is just not enough
Author: Jérémy Bourhis
24th May 2016
Really useful software unobtrusively blends into the lives of its users and makes their lives easier without needing them to drastically change what it is they do day to day, so if you’re in the business of building really useful software, at some point you’re going to need to interact with a calendar.
As a developer looking to build services around Calendar events, your first instinct is to build your software around the calendar that you use, and let’s face it, that’s probably Google Calendar.
Good news is Google provide a set of well designed, well documented, easy to use APIs for interacting with their users’ calendars – there are a number of libraries to handle authentication, there’s Push Notifications and sample code, before you know it your app is planting events in your calendar and fetching data back too, however the mistake has already been made.
You are not your users
The mistake we so often make in the tech industry is thinking that the way we live, the services we consume and the software we use is the same as everybody else. That our predilection for problem solving, for finding the latest, greatest tool for the job is shared by the rest of the world.
Google Calendar is brilliant; we use it extensively at Cronofy. I use it for my personal schedule as do most others that I speak to, particularly in the tech industry. However for the hundreds of millions of calendar users outside of our tech bubble, the story is very different.
Enter Microsoft Exchange Server
Remember when your email, calendars and contacts were served from a long suffering, overheating server in a cupboard in the corner of the room? If you do, it’s a distant memory, but this remains the way calendars are served for hundreds of millions of businesspeople around the world.
Microsoft is dominating this market – 64% and growing. A major new version was introduced just last year. Despite being a dusty box in the corner, on-premise Exchange can be synced with smartphones, accessed via the web and via APIs using Exchange Web Services. There are also many companies making a good business offering cloud-hosted instances of Exchange, all accessible via the web.
But what of the cloud calendars?
No doubt, Google is currently in the lead in the cloud calendar market but Microsoft is doing well here too – currently they serve upwards of 31% of cloud calendars using Outlook.com and Office365 (that’s hundreds of millions of people). Microsoft’s share of the cloud-based calendar market is seeing strong growth. With a smooth path to upgrade, they are succeeding in making sure that when their Exchange customers want to retire their dusty box in the corner and move to the cloud that Office365 is the defacto place to go.
Not forgetting Apple – their iCloud service provides a cloud-based calendar service out of the box to every Apple device and now boasts over 782 million users – these are not the sort of numbers you can afford to ignore.
With such a competitive, ever-changing calendar market, it’s not a good use of your time to be building and maintaining integrations with every calendar service used by your customers as they change, new ones get added and old ones get replaced. It is the same reason you don’t build your own payment provider to take card payments, your own messaging service to send text messages and your own database to store information.
By integrating with Cronofy you can benefit from a well-designed, well-documented, easy to use API for interacting with your users’ calendars, including Push Notifications and code libraries to make it even easier; you’ll be able to offer your users integration with every calendar service, past, present and future with one API. Best of all you’ll be able to spend your time focusing on building the parts of your software that make it uniquely valuable to your customers.