The blogosphere is buzzing about the new Google Apps that launched today. Google Apps is the official release of the prior Google Apps for Your Domain which was in beta. The new Google Apps will offer organizations a way to manage all of their employee’s mail, calendar, documents, and spreadsheets. The Google Apps are being offered at a rate of $50 per user per year which is a significant discount.
While Forbes seems to be hyping this as a direct target at Microsoft, I’m not quite sure how much of an impact they will actually have. While I would definitely be willing to substitute this for exchange, larger organizations would not be as likely to do so since they would consider this to be a security risk. I view Google Apps as more of a competitor to existing web based office solutions. One such example is ContactOffice.com (who was also a speaker at the Future of Web Apps conference), who currently has over 300,000 paying subscribers. Graham Davies of CixOffice.com told me that they are also in direct competition with Google Apps and are concerned about the impact. I think in contrast to Forbes who believes that Google is taking on Microsoft, Google is actually taking on the smaller web/virtual office businesses.
Is this new service the premium Gmail service that I wrote about a couple weeks ago? While Google Apps is packaged as an all-in-one solution (Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Docs, Spreadsheets, and Page Creator), the main thing that you are paying for is a large 10 GB email account in addition to the service being hosted under your domain. I should have signed up for Google Apps for Your Domain when it was free! Currently Google is offering the service for free through April 30th, so you can give it a test run.