A few days ago there was an article over at Read/Write Web regarding Google’s Gmail/Docs and Spreadsheets integration which pointed out an apparent flaw in their strategy. It was suggested that because of Gmail’s low number of subscribers it may not be as effective at attacking Microsoft’s Office monopoly. It’s true that even if this small number of people all ditched Microsoft Office right now Redmond would not even notice a bump in it’s bottom line, but I think the strategy is far more deeply seated.
My belief is that often Gmail is to some extent a testing ground for Google’s Business and Enterprise products and that in the next 6-12 months, we will see Google ramping up the featureset and integration of Google Apps for your Domain and pushing it as a product to customers. This will be done through Adsense referrals and possibly a more indepth affiliate program like that of Analytics. It is hard to say how many companies are using Google Apps, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are quite a few. I know that PodTech does (link) there are a number of Universities who also use it.
It has been well documented that people are unsure about having their data hosted remotely, especially with the recent experience of data-loss at Google. It seems certain, that as the full integration of Google Talk, Gmail and Docs & Spreadsheets is complete, there will be a rack-mountable server that enables it on a local lan and integrates with their existing search appliances.