Google wants to help companies get Internet domains they can call their own.
On Friday, Google will extend its Google Apps for Your Domain hosted-applications suite with a service that walks companies through the selection and registration of a domain name. As part of the service, which costs US$10 per year, Google will also link the components of the browser-based suite with the chosen domain.
Many speculate that Google Apps for Your Domain could rival long-established software suites for collaboration and productivity, although it currently can’t compare in functionality and sophistication with products like Microsoft’s Office.
Google Apps lets companies offer their users Web-based applications hosted by Google, including the Gmail Web mail system, the Calendar online scheduling service and the Talk instant-messaging service. Companies can brand these services with their own logo and corporate identity and provide them using their own domain name, while Google hosts and powers the suite transparently in the background in private-label fashion.
The Google suite is seen as an example of a different approach to business software provision, where the vendor also hosts the applications, freeing the client from hassles like installing and maintaining the software. Traditionally, this type of business software has been installed on the client’s own PCs and servers, which is the model upon which Microsoft has built its empire.
Whether the suite will ever compete with products like Office remains to be seen, but Google seems determined to continue improving Google Apps, which it introduced in August.
This new feature expands the universe of companies that can sign up for this suite, which until now had required subscribers to have their own domain name. It is aimed at small businesses that for lack of technical expertise haven’t acquired their own domain name, said Raju Gulabani, product management director of Google Apps for Your Domain.
Google will be reselling domain names from registrars GoDaddy.com and eNom, and it expects its list of partners to grow in the future, Gulabani said. Google’s agreement is to carry these partners’ domain-name registration service, and not the other complementary services they typically offer. It’s common for domain-name registrars to also offer, either for free or for a fee, services like website and e-mail hosting.
The domains available via the Google program are .com, .net, .org, .biz and .info because they are the most popular, but Google may consider adding others, like country-specific extensions, he said. The domain-name registration service is limited to organizations that will use the suite’s English-language version, although Google expects to broaden this later, since the suite is available in 17 other languages, he said.
Google Apps for Your Domain is now in beta and free to all subscribers, but in early 2007, Google expects to launch a version of the suite for large organizations that will be fee-based, Gulabani said, declining to offer more details about prices or features.
Organizations interested in Google Apps for Your Domain can go to this webpage.
-Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)
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