Google is taking nearly every online service it offers–including Voice, Picasa, Blogger, Reader, YouTube, and the all-important AdWords–and adding them to the Google Apps suite. This means that Google Apps now includes more than 60 individual applications.
The move increases pressure on Microsoft’s Office suite. Office is the company’s second most important business, garnering about $13 billion a year in revenue and saving the company’s last quarterly earnings. It’s also the main reason Microsoft is so paranoid about Google.
It could also be a pre-emptive strike against Facebook’s new messaging system. While definitely not meant for businesses today, the Facebook mail integrates with the online Microsoft Docs service, so it’s possible to look ahead two years and imagine a Facebook app suite for businesses. And Google’s as paranoid about Facebook as Microsoft is about Google.
None of the services added to Apps are brand new. But employees who use Apps will now be able to access and use all of these services with the same log-in they use for mail, calendaring, and Docs today, and IT administrators will be able to roll out specific sets of services to particular user types. Contacts will also be unified across all the services, with auto-complete typing for e-mail addresses.
So imagine executives and salespeople using Google Voice to consolidate office and mobile phone numbers and have all voicemails go to a single inbox. That reduces the incentive to buy and install insanely complicated unified communications systems like Microsoft Lync, which launched yesterday.
Marketing teams can get immediate access to AdWords and Blogger. Web site publishers can access Analytics. Entrepreneurs who want to keep track of everything going on in their field can get Reader. And so on.
Microsoft’s Office suite and the online services in Office 365 have more features than most of their Google equivalents, and some of them–particularly SharePoint Online–could be considered multiple apps in their own right.
But on a checklist basis, 60+ apps in Google Apps looks better than a dozen or so in Office 365, and a lot of the services–like AdWords and Analytics–are already very popular among businesses and have no Microsoft equivalent. Adding them to Apps gives Google another entryway to try and get customers to buy the whole enchilada.
New customers will get all the Apps when they sign up, and existing customers can add the new apps from the control panel or will be automatically transitioned next year.
Google is also de-Microsofting the names for Apps editions–Google Apps Standard Edition becomes just Google Apps, Premier Edition becomes Google Apps for Business, and so on. Google’s blog post has all the details.