Whats Old Is New with Google

News Analysis: The company's free beta takes on existing apps and may be costly in the long term.

Word is Google is working on a new service that will deliver a round object with two flat sides that will be the be-all, end-all for moving people and objects.

Initial tests reveal a substantial uneven section, but the product is in beta, so some inconvenience for the user can be expected.

Google has not announced a timeline for when the beta will become a supported service.

All joking aside, perhaps Googles biggest strategic advantage isnt search but the ability to "create" products that already exist, providing a much more narrow feature set and no support—at least, not on the level demanded by corporations or other paying customers.

A case in point is the recently released Google Spreadsheets application, which eWEEK Labs just tested. But even Google Earth, for which Google charges, points people to e-mail-based support.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Google Spreadsheets.

One of Googles latest beta services, "Gmail for your domain," allows companies to use Gmail as a corporate e-mail system by pointing an MX (mail exchange) record at an e-mail domain.

Administrators can manage user accounts through the service, which gives each user 2GB of e-mail space with both POP (Post Office Protocol) and Web mail access.

This offer may sound tempting, especially since most users crave more liberal storage limits, but it also puts more data at risk of slow mailbox recovery times (if mailbox rebuilding is even supported).

If price is what matters, there are plenty of services around that provide useful productivity tools for about $10 per user per month.

Indeed, Googles getting a lot of buzz with these free beta services, but their costs may ultimately be very high.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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Spreadsheet Shot

Googles newest offering gives users the ability to easily create, edit and share spreadsheets, but Microsoft neednt worry about losing any business users to the beta. eWEEK Labs found Google Spreadsheets to be easy to use but lacking in the kinds of features we—and many enterprise spreadsheet users—have come to rely upon in Microsoft Excel. Our full review of Google Spreadsheets is here.

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