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Google Applies Itself To Communication

By: David Utter

The search advertising company took another step toward being the Microsoft competitor many expect it to become.

Google Applies Itself To CommunicationDuring the past week, a pair of hosted service companies, Salesforce (CRM) and NetSuite, have made additions to their services to support Google (GOOG) AdWords clients. Today, Google announced it has bundled some of its hosted services into a single point-of-presence for sites looking for branded communications.

The Google Apps for Your Domain combines Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Calendar, along with the Google Page Creator product, in a way that allows organizations to offer and manage these options to their staffers. Google is offering this as a free service, but also note a premium version is in development.

Google first took a step toward the hosted services arena when it debuted a version of Gmail for Domains in February 2006. Gmail has become a popular free email option with its advanced interface, and when it was first launched with a 1GB storage limit, competitors in the webmail space were forced to increase their meager storage limits to match it.

Instead of incurring the expense of a server-based or a for-pay hosted service for email, domain owners can opt for Google's free option instead. They can manage the Apps service, and set its branding along with the look and feel, from a browser-based administrative control panel.

"Organizations can let Google be the experts in delivering high quality email, messaging, and other web-based services while they focus on the needs of their users and their day-to-day business," Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, enterprise, at Google, said in their announcement.

There has been an expectation that Google would eventually offer some type of competitor to Microsoft's Office productivity suite, long a multi-billion dollar cash cow to Microsoft (MSFT). Google Apps for Your Domain competes more with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook with its email capabilities, rather than the broader capabilities of Office.


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