General Motors Corp. has signed on with Google Inc. for email and online collaboration software. The services will support over 100,000 employees at the vehicle manufacturer. As it stands, Google must meet specific demands GM has placed as stipulations of the contract, before GM sets up such a vast array of their staff on the system.
One representative of GM made it clear the company has not instituted in-house use of Google Apps yet, and that they are trying to remain open to alternative possibilities from cutting edge developers.
This is Google’s big chance to thwart Microsoft in the field of applications. If the GM deal is successful, this would in fact be the largest since Google began with Google Apps in 2007.
Google Apps competes head to head with Microsoft Office, but also adds Gmail and Google+. Gmail could be compared to Outlook, but Outlook is simply an email shell, whereas Gmail is a full blown email service. Microsoft does have MSN Chat, but it is also not directly comparable to what Google is building. Google+ is not only for chatting, but is a complete social networking service, which includes video conferencing.
While GM has been locked into International Business Machine’s (IBM) Lotus Notes, it has begun shopping around. Both Microsoft and Google have made pitches for a contract with the car manufacturer to provide cloud computing services, namely email and a collaboration platform. None of the three competitors, IBM, Microsoft, nor Google, offered comments.
So far, Google’s success with their could computing has been chiefly with small to medium-sized companies. There have been a couple of large companies sign on, the most notable of which is Royal Ahold NV, a Dutch retailer. They purchased licenses covering 55,000 employees on Google Apps.
Google is eying the GM contract, hoping the company implements the applications, because it is not only a large sell, but it represents the beginning of a domino effect. If GM, one of the worlds largest and oldest companies, overcomes their security concerns at storing corporate data in the cloud, rather than on in-house servers, then other large-scale companies are likely to follow suit.
Google really does not need the income from Google Apps. Its revenue for this year is expected to hit $30 billion. Most of this comes from the selling of online advertising. However, Google Apps and additional mapping software, account for about $1 billion of Google’s intake, starting this year.
A new field for Google is mass data storage and analysis for businesses. They are working on predictive algorithms to anticipate consumer behavior. What is to keep Google from “analyzing” your company’s emails, documents, and spreadsheets?
Although Google claims over 4 million users, most of them are using the free version of Google Apps. If a business has more than 10 employees, they must pay $50 annually per user license. Certainly GM received a huge discount, perhaps even greater than 50%, some sources say.
Microsoft has meanwhile launched Office 365 this year. It is a cloud version of Office and Exchange online. However, the starting fee is $24 per user monthly. That is a far cry from $50 per year for Google Apps.