Taking clear aim at Microsoft's immense Office revenue stream, Google announced Google Apps Premier yesterday. $50 per year for Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Docs & Spreadsheets, Page Creator, 10 gigs of storage, and service level agreement promising 99.9% uptime and 24/7 tech support. And rumor has it a Google Outlook clone is coming soon. The two obvious concerns are availability (no web access = no access to your documents; or, Google goes down = no access to your documents) and security (Google can see all your stuff; hackers who crack into Google can also see all your stuff). I think the second is a far greater concern than the first. (Interesting pdf on recent Google exploit, in this case Desktop Search: check out Watchfire's whitepaper, "Overtaking Google Desktop"). The $50 price point for whole darn suite is certainly on the money for SOHO and small businesses. Office is clearly monopoly priced, and Outlook takes too much hassle to administer. SoftwareAsAService makes clear sense for many homes and businesses. I don't think large corporations are going to trust Google (or any outside hosted webapp) with all their spreadsheets and email, however. Wouldn't there be Sarbanes-Oxley issues regarding sensitive financial data on publically traded firms? The real killer app will be Google Apps running inside a corporate firewall, on a corporation's own servers, regularly updated and patched and help-desked by Google, and all happily SarbOx compliant. I predict we'll see that by year's end. Watch your back, MSFT.
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