Google Apps go mainstream

Google’s acquistion of Writely last year was interesting. An online, word processor, that can do all things MS Word does and its FREE? Sounds great and indeed it was! Since then, Google Labs worked on an online spreadsheet application, Google Talk (Instant Messaging) and Google Calendar. Well today, Google finally announced what I’ve thought for ages – They are gunning for Microsoft Office’s share of the market.

Well, what does mean for you?

With Google Apps, you can give your employees the next-generation communication and collaboration tools they need to manage electronic communications, share and publish information and stay connected while on the go. Whether you’re looking to transition from or complement your existing messaging infrastructure with more advanced collaboration tools, Google Apps gives you full control while requiring minimal investment. Google Apps can also make it easy to meet deskless employees’ email and calendaring needs. Best of all, it’s all hosted by Google, so there’s no hardware or software to download, install or maintain. With Google, you can afford to provide each and every employee with the tools they need to succeed.”

Google Apps Premier Edition is the promised offering for small businesses. It includes 10 gigabytes of mail storage, 99.9% uptime guarantee for email, APIs to integrate with the existing infrastructure of a business (single sign-on, user management, email gateway), 24/7 phone support. Everything for $50 a year per user (there’s a free trial until April 30th).

Google continues to offer two free editions of Google Apps:

* a edition for schools, that includes the APIs and 24/7 phone support

* a edition for families and groups that has all the features that were available until now.

All editions of Google Apps* include Google Docs & Spreadsheets and are compatible with the BlackBerry version of Gmail’s mobile application.

Google’s intention is to convince it can deliver “simple, powerful communication and collaboration tools for your organization without the usual hassle and cost” and the package can integrate into an existing environment. Google has learned a lot since last August, when it first introduced Google Apps, and has adapted to fit the needs of a corporate environment. Will businesses adapt to use Google’s web applications and trade some features for an always-available online interface?

If you are interested in this, also take a look at: Zoho.

Microsoft are due to launch their own versions of online based Office apps – Microsoft Office Live! later this year. This is going to be interesting to watch.

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+