Thoughts on Google Apps

I’ve been playing with Google’s newly launched Google Apps, and so far I’m impressed. All the apps are the ones you’ve come to know and feel comfortable with, if you’re a Gmail/Calendar/etc. user; they are also all managed via a nice, clean interface with direct support for adding multiple users via CSV. And most compelling? The apps are free as a bundle.

So, who does this hurt? Microsoft, for sure, but it also messes with all sorts of other companies & markets, ranging from domain hosting (no more charging for additional mail space), to business application services (no more … business), to storage (no more under-used drives in the small business office to deal with attachment junkies).

This is a big and ballsy play on Google’s part — especially the “free” part — with Writely and others apps almost certain to get rolled in shortly, you can expect more pain to come for competitors. And when the premium version comes later this year, with Google charging for larger storage etc., the revenue will really begin to get sucked out of the small business software market.

I can’t resist one semi-cynical comment: There will be those who roll their eyes at Google’s inclusion of Google Talk in the mix. After all, the service is going nowhere, and most users already have IM services, so Talk’s inclusion could be seen as a kind of benny tossed to the Talk kiddies at Google.

Finally, and this is mostly directed at people sending “Enterprise 2.0” business plans my way: If you’re thinking of doing something squarely in Google’s enterprise-lusting aim you need to ask yourself one question only: Why? What makes you think that you can do it so much better than Google can that the inevitable free Google Apps product doesn’t kick your ass out of the office market? I’m not saying it’s impossible, and there are plenty of things outside Google’s aim — including apps that are much more social by design than what Google builds — but the gate is 99% closed for bringing vanilla,mass-market office apps to the web.


  1. The market is also closing for bringing basic productivity apps to education: google will suck all of them up in a 1-laptop-per-kid, always-connected future world.
    Getting beyond basic, however, or vanilla, as you say, will be open.
    But free is tough to compete with. Free and integrated (as Google apps are inevitably becoming) is even harder.
    Free and integrated and not-sucking will be even harder.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you give everybody in an enterprise Google Talk, then you get over the hurdle of not having people to talk to. I predict that Google Talk will have more use in enterprises than outside.

  3. Online biz apps have been around for almost a decade. They’ve never taken off. The reasons are more cultural than technical. More on this story on the Web 2.5 blog

  4. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    I think there is plenty of room for Intranet-friendly apps competing in this service space, rather than Internet-friendly apps Google is introducing/repackaging.
    I can immediately think of one feature that blows Google current offering : offline work with auto resync.

  5. so what does this mean for dabbledb’s prospects?

  6. Hey Mark — Nothing has changed. Dabble is still building a 2.0 tool for collecting, analyzing and sharing data. It was never intended to be a web-ified version of Excel or Access, so the current ardor for web apps is nice, but largely irrelevant. We have bigger goals than merely porting Win32 apps to the Web.

  7. Perceptive (but don’t underestimate GTalk). If I had to rate the who Techmeme page, this post is the only one to justify Gabe’s algorithm. This one gets me subscribed.