Well in a way SharePoint = 42 if you don’t get the reference to Hitchhikers Guide, please go read the book.
SharePoint is a technology platform. It is not a software like Word, or even Office even though many folks see it as just something you can install and use. Organizations need to see SharePoint as a strategic investment in there company.
There is a few flavors of SharePoint (we are sticking to 2010 for this post).
This is the free on-premises solution. It provide a quick, and easy SharePoint deployment, giving you many types of basic sites and functionality like: team sites, webpages, document libraries, lists, calendars, etc…..Think of this as the common entry point for small and medium size businesses. The base package.
This come in two versions Standard and Enterprise, along with a series of different licensing models to support your every need. Don’t ask me about licensing, call your MS Rep. What is important to understand is that these are the commonly referenced versions at conferences, tradeshows, and by your favorite Add-On software provider. You can choose all the bells and this also provides the Social platform MySites and Web 2.0 functionality.
SharePoint Online (Office 365)
A cloud-based option that has come online in the past year offering you the ability to host at Microsoft. This is commonly bundled with the other BPOS or Office 365 solutions, and a friendly option for those wanting to scale and have a low cost of entry.
Now where folks loose it is when you say, by the way “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING WITH SHAREPOINT!”, yes that is true, but you still have limits Out Of Box. It is commonly considered a open platform/base platform for development teams to build off of, so can expand it to really do nearly anything you want. Keep in mind the cost with such grand adventures, are you getting what you paid for in the end. The caveat is that it must be deployed using best practices, and having a SharePoint Architect worth his or her salt implement it. You must have a stable system that could be the foundation of your entire company.
Now I am not saying SharePoint can solve all your problems, it will not create world peace, it cannot make your company money. What it does do (if done right) is give you a great tool to collaborate, centralize content, communicate, and innovate your organization around a tool that will not be going out of fashion next week. Get it. SharePoint has been around since 2001 and will be around for a long time, can’t say that about other tools.