Google Video Makes (Another) Google Pitch for Business Users

Building on YouTube, Google adds video to its Google Apps online software suite. Analysts say the capability will give Google another selling point in its efforts to compete in the productivity software market with Microsoft.

Google is attempting to bring YouTube to businesses by allowing users to upload, share and view video over its paid Google Apps suite starting Sept. 2, the company said.

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Google Apps is an online software package that costs companies $50 per person per year and includes email (Gmail), calendars, documents, spreadsheets and instant messaging.

The addition of video will not affect the price of $50 for current or future customers.

During a briefing at the company's San Francisco offices last week, Rishi Chandra, the Google Apps product manager, said that Google wants to take the characteristics of its popular YouTube service and apply the same viral principles of rating, commenting and sharing videos for business users of the Google Apps software.

Chandra says online video has failed inside businesses because it was hard for regular employees to upload video and it was near impossible for IT departments to manage the size of the files. Because all the data running on Google Apps resides in Google's huge data centers, he says they can handle the videos better than companies could themselves.

"Up to now, video hasn't had as much traction in the business side of things," Chandra says. "In general, it's been too expensive and complex for companies to manage themselves."

Google knows a thing about managing video. According to Chandra, users of the popular YouTube site upload 13 hours of video per hour.

According to Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research, the video offering adds more to the collaboration suite by giving users another avenue for communication outside simple productivity apps like documents and spreadsheets — something that could look attractive to businesses in comparison to traditional productivity suites like Microsoft Office.

"We can all think of a time where we said let’s put this in an email or go over it on a call," she says. With video, we get even more context. Now they can look at you and know what you’re saying and explaining to you."

Some Google Apps customers, such as 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, a company in the midwest that sells used fitness machines and equipment, have already begun using the feature.

According to Tom Kelly, 2nd Wind's CFO and CIO, the company likes to send around commercials of videos recorded by its founder to employees. 2nd Wind also gives awards to sales people. Typically, people would have to travel from disparate areas to see the award presentation. Now, he says, a video presentation can be shot and uploaded, saving the company time and money.

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