Google Apps have all Matured. No longer are Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Talk carrying the beta tag. they are all now full-fledged members of the Google products Family
In truth, it’s hard to tell exactly what technical improvements/enhancements may have prompted the decision to lift the products out of beta. Google said, removal of the beta status means that those products have all reached unspecified internal metrics in terms of reliability and usability.
GMail was in beta for 5 years. And paying enterprise customers will still be provided with a 99.9 percent service-level agreement now that the products are out of beta. Now we could expect five nines industry standard for GMail.
The move is seen as a way to attract large businesses to Google Apps, its suite of messaging and productivity applications.
Beta is gone, New Features are In
Google says it has beefed up the Google Apps suite by adding offline access to e-mail and calendars and streamlining access to Google Apps for Mobile users. Also, Web-based messaging platform is now more compatible with Microsoft Outlook and it has improved contact management for Google Apps.
“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,” wrote Rajen Sheth, senior product manager, Google Apps, in a blog post.
Google: The Beta Guy
“No business is going to rely on a ‘beta’ service for something as important as e-mail,” says Matt Cain, lead e-mail analyst with market research firm Gartner. But, he adds, just by lifting the beta label does not guarantee Google success.
Google may be a giant in the search engine space, but the company is only a bit player when it comes to providing e-mail to businesses. Microsoft owns about 70 percent of the e-mail market, followed by IBM with 17 percent, according to Gartner. Cain says Microsoft and IBM don’t have any serious competition yet, but can expect nipping at their heels from Web-based services such as Google and a new offering from Cisco expected as a result of the company’s purchase of PostPath. These services are cloud based, meaning companies don’t have to host servers on site and any heavy infrastructural lifting is done by the provider offsite. Google’s pitch for its communications suite also includes a claim that Google Apps can save companies 50 to 70 percent compared to “other e-mail solutions.”
In recent months, Google has stepped up its battle against Microsoft to win over the enterprise business market. Last month Google released a new plug-in that allows businesses to switch to Google Apps. The utility can migrate a company’s e-mail, calendar, and contacts to Google’s cloud while retaining the interface of Outlook.
“Google has listened to what enterprises want, and it has delivered much of that,” Cain says. Google says it manage 15 million business inboxes and “tens of millions” more consumer Gmail inboxes.
Cain doesn’t anticipate cloud-based e-mail management to pose a threat to offerings provided by Microsoft and IBM for another two to four years.
Beta and Innovation
Google representatives say by no means does the removal of the beta label mean Google will stop innovating and experimenting with new features offered through Google Labs for Gmail, Google Calendar, and other Google App services. It says existing Google Labs users can re-enable the beta label for Gmail from the Labs tab under Settings.