Put to rest any doubts that Google Apps (GOOG) isn’t a direct attack on Microsoft’s (MSFT) cash cow, the MS Office suite. No longer content to let customers come to them, Google will soon begin recruiting salespeople to pitch corporate clients on the $50 per account per year service.
Reuters: Web search leader Google Inc took another step on Wednesday towards direct competition with Microsoft Corp by recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients.
From the end of March, authorised resellers will be able to sell, customise and support premium versions of Google Apps, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and email…
Since it launched Google Apps in February 2007, Google has only sold directly to business users over the Web. Analysts said the move to work with third parties is necessary if Google hopes to compete seriously with Microsoft or IBM.
Google’s App business has the potential to disrupt Office, but it has yet to become a meaningful revenue generator for Google. Hiring sales and support teams are a must, but these folks will also increase the cost of providing the Apps. So don’t look for Appls to contribute to Google’s growth anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has promised to bundle cloud-like features into Office 14. But Microsoft is so far refusing to commit to the new Office before 2010 — if Google Apps starts getting traction, look for Microsoft to get the updated Office to market quick.