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Photo: studioEAST/Getty Images

Google's G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Long seen as the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is now one of the two incumbents, facing fresh rivals of its own.

"That's a staggering number. ... These products have incredible reach. Changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do."
— Javier Soltero

Soltero declined to offer a breakdown of how many of those 2 billion users are for products beyond Gmail or how many are paid versus free.

Driving the news: Soltero, who joined Google from Microsoft last year, said his focus has been on doubling down on features that make G Suite unique, like its robust search, conversation focus in Gmail and built-in collaboration.

Once a startup CEO himself — he sold mobile email app Accompli to Microsoft — Soltero now touts the benefits of going with an established player, rather than some company that might not even be around a year from now.

Yes, but: The presence of so many startups out there shows there is more work to be done, Soltero said. "This is not a solved problem. Nobody has run the table on communication and collaboration."

  • As for what distinguishes Google from Microsoft, Soltero pointed to its Silicon Valley culture: "I don't feel the need to be quite as outspoken here," Soltero said. "People do a lot more self-examination here, which is great."

What's next: Soltero said to expect the "smart compose" feature — which suggests email replies, for instance, based on the content of the message — to expand beyond Gmail and Docs. The feature, he said, should go everywhere it is prudent to do so.

He also sees room for improvement in better integrating the separate apps. "I think we still have work to do," Soltero said.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

8 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.