Google Apps : Prelude to Google Office
In what is a precursor for a ‘Google Office’ type total business suite offering which further enhances the competitive playing field with Microsoft, Google Inc. has launched the Google Apps for Your Domain product, a set of Google hosted communication applications for businesses and organizations; “In addition to customizing the user interface with their own branding and color scheme, organizations can tailor the service to their needs by mixing and matching the email, messaging, calendaring and other tools offered through Google Apps for Your Domain. Over time, Google will offer versions of Google Apps for Your Domain that are oriented toward the needs of a variety of organizations, from family websites and community groups to non-profits and small businesses, as well as universities, large enterprises, and ISPs.”
Google Apps for Your Domain, which has been expanded from the Gmail for Your Domain service that launched in February 2006, now includes Gmail web email, the Google Talk messaging and VOIP service, Google Calendar, and Google Page Creator; the web page publishing and hosting service.
The statement that Google uses to describe its Google Apps product seems to define its mission in this space and leave much room for Google OpenOffice lunch speculation; a set of hosted applications for organizations that want to provide high quality communications tools to their users without the hassle of installing and maintaining software or hardware.
Google describes their two current choice of services as:
* A standard edition of Google Apps for Your Domain is available today as a beta product without cost to domain administrators or end users. Key features include 2 gigabytes of email storage for each user, easy to use customization tools, and help for administrators via email or an online help center. Furthermore, organizations that sign up during the beta period will not ever have to pay for users accepted during that period (provided Google continues to offer the service).
* A premium version of the product is being developed for organizations with more advanced needs. More information, including details on pricing, will be available soon.
“Organizations of all sizes face a common challenge of helping their users communicate and share information more effectively,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, enterprise, at Google. “A hosted service like Google Apps for Your Domain eliminates many of the expenses and hassles of maintaining a communications infrastructure, which is welcome relief for many small business owners and IT staffers. Organizations can let Google be the experts in delivering high quality email, messaging, and other web-based services while they focus on the needs of their users and their day-to-day business.”