Businesses to buy into Google Apps Premier Edition?

Subscription version of Gmail, Google Talk and other services--$50 a year per user--now includes Docs & Spreadsheets.

Google has repackaged and enhanced its business-oriented software offerings into a paid-subscription suite known as Google Apps Premier Edition.

The new suite, announced Thursday, replaces the set of programs previously known as Google Apps for Your Domain, which included the Start Page feature for creating a home page at a specific domain name, Gmail Web-based e-mail services, the Google Calendar shared calendar program, and Google Talk for instant-messaging and voice chat. The new Google Apps Premier Edition is comprised of those programs in addition to the Google Docs & Spreadsheets software.


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While Google Apps Premier Edition isn't yet on par
with the dominant productivity suite, the Google
mystique and the $50 price count for a lot.

The announcement of a revamped business application suite from Google had been anticipated for some time, as reported by CNET News.com.

Businesses can subscribe to Google Apps Premier Edition for $50 per year for each user account. While all of the applications are available in a free, ad-supported form to consumers, a subscription to the enterprise version offers enhanced customer support features, 10 gigabytes of storage per user, no advertisements and a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) designed to help companies' IT professionals further customize the service. Additionally, Google has assured business users that they will have the privilege of 99.9 percent reliability--an important point for the company to stress, as have occasionally irked its consumer base.

In addition, with the launch of Google Apps Premier Edition, mobile Gmail access is now available for BlackBerry handheld devices. This is available to all BlackBerry users, not just those who have access to a subscription of Premier Edition.

"We're extremely excited, and we think this is something that will be good for the market," commented Matt Glotzbach, head the Google Enterprise Product Team. "Our goal is to provide an application that's a pleasure to use for the end user. All too often, we hear users, especially in larger companies, say, 'Why can't it just work like Google?' and that's what we want to provide: Google applications in a business environment."

The inclusion of the Docs & Spreadsheets applications raises the question of whether Google, which already boasts a business user base of approximately 100,000 small businesses and universities, is aiming to eat into the market share of productivity suites like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org. But Glotzbach insisted that the collaboration and mobility functionality served up by Google Apps, accessible from an Internet browser rather than an installed piece of software, makes it a different set of applications entirely.

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