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Google brings its Apps out of beta

Wants to appeal to a wider business base

By Steve Evans

Google has announced that it is bringing all of its Apps products out of beta, in an attempt to make the suite more appealing to bigger enterprises.

Google is renowned for keeping its products in beta for a long time after their launch – Google Mail (Gmail) has been in beta since its introduction five years ago. But now Gmail, Calendar, Talk and Docs have had their beta tags removed, joining Google Sites and Video for Business.

Dave Armstrong, head of marketing EMEA, Google Enterprise, told CBR that the reason behind the decision is to show potential customers that the Google Apps suite is ready for wide-spread use at large enterprises.

“The reason the products were kept in beta for so long was because we wanted people to know that we were constantly innovating the products, not because they were not ready for enterprise use,” he said. “Each product team established a criteria for each app covering usability, readiness and more. Now they are ready to be brought out of beta.”

Armstrong added that removing the beta tags would hopefully entice more big businesses to use Google App that otherwise may have been put off by the beta label. “We want businesses to know that Google Apps is business-ready,” he said.

Announcing the move in a post on the Google Enterprise blog, Matt Glotzbach, product management director, Google Enterprise, said: “Ever since we launched the Google Apps suite for businesses two years ago, it’s had a service level agreement, 24/7 support, and has met or exceeded all the other standards of non-beta software. We’ve come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn’t fit for large enterprises that aren’t keen to run their business on software that sounds like it’s still in the trial phase.”

Google Apps is beginning to make a move in the enterprise space. In February 2009, The Guardian News and Media Group moved over 2,000 members of staff onto Google Apps, reducing the workload for IT support staff and increasing employee productivity. The Telegraph implemented Google Apps in July 2008, migrating nearly 1,500 users to the hosted platform.

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Google now claims around 1.75 million businesses use its Apps platform, mainly in the SMB space. The company hopes that this announcement will encourage more large enterprises to adopt its technology.

The firm has recently been beefing up its enterprise application platform by offering offline access to Google Apps as well as integration with BlackBerry devices and Microsoft Outlook.

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