Mobility of Googles applications would also need to be addressed to woo enterprises. "Part of the question of portability is the ability to sync with handheld devices either using Exchange Activesync, BlackBerry services or Good software," says Kevin Benson, Chief Technology Officer, South Carolina Parks, Recreation & Tourism. "No solution Google is currently providing or has announced would meet the needs of small or midsize businesses, which rely on mobility as a key component. Being tethered to a Web-based app is becoming a prisoner to access and bandwidth."In a research note, Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post says he doesnt expect Google to garner "material revenue from software over the next year, or material penetration with large enterprises for Googles hosted products." So whats the real endgame? Analysts say Googles latest application effort telegraphs where the company is aiming in the future. "We think this highlights the idea of the network as the computer, an idea a long time coming," says Benjamin Schachter, an analyst at UBS. Webster argues that Googles effort is really about usurping Windows Live, Microsofts efforts to bridge its core operating system with a future of software as a service. However, even this will be a challenge for Google since Microsoft is embedding Windows Live links into Vista. And given that captive audience Microsoft users are likely to migrate to Office Live from Office instead of a new set of applications. Nonetheless, Google could find a niche market by targeting what Webster calls "mom and pop shops" and smaller companies that could become larger ones. Doan is one of those smaller companies currently using Googles apps and hoping to grow with them. "I do see Google eventually becoming a competitor to Microsoft Office; however, I believe they will affect small business in the near feature," says Doan. "RedOctane is a growing company and at some point in size, it would have definitely been too risky for us to move our e-mail system to Google apps." Mary Jo Foley and Scott Ferguson contributed to this report. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
Indeed, analysts have little expectations that Google can be an enterprise player with its latest application bundle.