Google Apps for Your Domain

Today Google released Google Apps for Your Domain. From the release page:
Now you can offer private-labeled email, IM and calendar tools to all of your users for free*, so they can share ideas and get things done more effectively. You can design and publish your organization's website, too. It's all hosted by Google, so there's no hardware or software for you to install or maintain.
Basically, it's Gmail+Google Talk+Google Calendar+Google Pages hosted at Google, using your own domain. Why most articles I see are calling it an “Office Suite”, when it lacks a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation program is beyond me. It seems people really want to see Google vs. Microsoft, to the point that they'll pretty much make it up if they have to. The program is ad supported now, but in the future you'll be able to pay to remove the ads. Having just made it clear I don't consider this an office suite in any way, it would not at all surprise me to see Google roll their online word processor and spreadsheet into this in the future. In fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't. I'd guess they're just waiting until the two are a little more polished. Even then though, this won't be a direct Microsoft Office replacement. It serves a much different audience and comes with much different advantages. The real power in this will be in the collaboration. It's a real pain for small offices to share extremely simple spreadsheets. That's where a product like this could excel (ok, that one was bad…I'll admit). Before this could even be in any way potentially considered an “Office-killer”, Google would have to offer a version you could host yourself, and that's not something I've seen any indication of yet. This is something that I think is going to take a while to play out. The world isn't quite ready for a mainstream online office suite yet, and the product aren't quite where they need to be. Given some time and additional technology though, this could be a space that is extremely compelling in the next 18 months or so. Being able to collaboratively edit a document from anywhere in the world, from any OS (including your mobile phone) is one of those paradigm changing events that will cause major disruption. When a company can put that technology behind their firewall and allow access via VPN…that's when we'll see enterprise adoption. My guess is that it will be Google and/or IBM that realizes this goal first.
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