Monday, August 28th, 2006

Google Pitching Services to Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Category: Google, Web20

This has been such a rolling press release that I’m not sure it qualifies as news anymore, but it’s in the New York Times so it must be news. Google announced today that it is providing a set of hosted applications for small to medium sized businesses. The beta service will be free for now, and the premium service is under development.

What comes with the application suite? From the overview FAQ:

You can currently choose from Google Mail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Page Creator. Also, you’ll soon be able to add a Personalized Start Page for your domain.

I think everyone knew that this was coming, and there’s been speculation about Google offering its office-like applications — including Writely and Spreadsheet — as a pay service, for several months. The last two paragraphs of the Times article, however, point toward these applications being offered as appliance-based software to larger companies.

Providing technology to corporations and large organizations accounts for less than 2 percent of Google’s revenue, but the business is increasingly critical, Mr. Girouard said. Most of that involves selling “server appliances,” large computers that take on the job of conducting searches of large databases and company records.

“We are a very small part of Google’s overall business, but we’re growing quickly,” he said.

If Google starts to cut into Microsoft’s market share, this could prove the software as a service (SaaS) business model and might trigger a land rush by online companies into areas heretofore the exclusive domain of desktop application vendors.

Update: just saw this Red Herring article on the 17 competitors to MS Office. A thorough article that covers more than just the usual handful of Web 2.0 startups, it is well worth reading if for nothing else than these sorts of heartwarming quotes:

WriteBoard can seem almost bare-bones in its features, but Mr. Fried is betting on simplicity. “The problem with the traditional software industry is that they have to bloat their products,” he said. “They have to add more and more so they can get more money out of their users next year, but we don’t want to follow that model.”

Yes. Bring back the simple 64k application. My Commodore 64 is still somewhere in a closet in my parents’ house. ;-)

Posted by Dietrich Kappe at 3:59 pm

4.1 rating from 24 votes


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Er, Google is pitching products, not services.

Comment by Jeffrey McManus — August 29, 2006

Bring back the simple 64k application.
I’m thinking similar. Well, kind of. I find it very annoying that with a decent machine you still have a noticeable response time from most applications today, be it the MS office suite, eclipse, firefox or whatever. While Firefox slowing down is essentially down to me adding all those extensions, I’d love to trade in many features of Word or Outlook for a quicker response time. I don’t want to see splashscreens for 10 seconds, Loading trazillions modules and plugins. even bloody acrobat reader takes its time nowadays.
I want everything as fast as … Notepad. I don’t mind if that’s inside or outside of a browser, and as long as I don’t have people coming back to me saying “I can’t open that”, I couldn’t care less about who offers that solution.
Can you do all that for me, Dietrich? :-D

Comment by Matthias — August 29, 2006


SaaS can be a slippery concept. When you sell someone a bottle of shampoo versus giving them a manicure, it is clear which one is a product and which one is a service. But if I sell you the use of a word processor on a monthly basis via a remote server, is it a product or a service? The word processor is a product, but the way I am selling it to you is a service.

Think of it this way: if Microsoft went out of business tomorrow, XP and Word will still work on my machine. If Google goes out of business, Writely and GMail and company no longer work. By that criterion, Google is selling services, not a product. If they license the software and sell appliances, then it starts to look like a product.

Comment by Dietrich Kappe — August 29, 2006


I wasn’t being facetious when I called for the comeback of 64K applications. For my money, Word 3.0 was the best version of Microsoft Word. Everything else has been downhill since then.

Comment by Dietrich Kappe — August 29, 2006

Although I had to look up “facetious”, I think we agree. I’m surely pleased by some more modern features, but the whole “extensions” concept of Firefox should be made available everywhere (with mentioned 64k application as core). Or are there other options?

Comment by Matthias — August 30, 2006

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