The biggest item, of course, is that last one: the launch of a subscription model that bundles Google's increasingly popular Web-based productivity software for a low annual price of just $50 per user.
This has been coming for some time, with industry observers predicting the move since Google began buying up makers of personal productivity software that could be accessed from anywhere at anytime via the Internet. And the writing was on the wall last August when Google introduced a consumer suite that included e-mail, calendar, word processing, and spreadsheet functionality in addition to messaging and voice applications.
This most recent announcement, however, includes a number of key features that will appeal specifically to the enterprise user. Among other things, Google Apps Premier Edition includes APIs that businesses can use to integrate the suite with their own applications, an e-mail service that comes with 10 Gbytes of online storage, and service-level agreements promising 99.9% uptime and 24/7 tech support.
Add to this a price tag that is just a fraction of what Microsoft Office charges, and companies have an extremely compelling reason to at least consider Google as their preferred purveyor of mainstream office automation functionality. As the saying goes, what's not to like?
But there are other reasons that the business community--not to mention the general public--is fascinated by Google. The chief one is a bit ironic. We love the upstarts. We root for them to succeed. Google is hardly a little guy anymore. Yet there's something about the company that provokes a kind of amnesia about this fact. Perhaps because the company is so vibrant and alive that it stands in sharp contrast to the same-old same-old rounds of products upgrades and marketing mantras coming out of other leading technology companies. Perhaps it's the fresh faces of its founders. Or the fact that everyone loves a rags-to-riches story (although, to be fair, few Stanford students have ever come close to suffering undue financial hardship). Whatever the reason, Google has captured our collective imagination. And everyone--including the most jaded and seasoned industry observers--can't wait to see what will happen next.
What do you think? Are you a Google fan? Or are you tired of the hype? Let us know by responding to the InformationWeek Blog below.