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Google Going After SMB Messaging Market

All you Microsoft partners doing Outlook/Exchange/Microsoft IM installs in the midrange market or providing hosted Exchange services, take note: Google wants to eat your lunch.

The NY Times reports: “Taking aim at Microsoft, Google plans to offer a package of software for business users.”

The initial software bundle, called Google Apps for Your Domain, will provide e-mail (based on GMail), calendaring and instant messaging, as well as a Website development tool–for free. The bundle is obviously aimed at the same space as Microsoft’s Windows Live services.

Google plans to offer a paid version of the service later that will include technical support and other services. I’m betting those other services include Writely, the web-based word processor that Google recently acquired , and a Google spreadsheet application. I’m also betting that the services will eventually also be bundled with the Google Mini search appliance for an all-in-one solution for document and knowledge management.

Free is a hard price to beat, particularly at the price point Microsoft currently offers Exchange seats at. And with Microsoft looking to capture the same audience with its own software-as-a-service play (Windows Live), it’s going to get increasingly difficult to make any kind of money providing core software and services for SMB’s like messaging and basic knowledge worker applications. But that was true before Google got into the market — the safer ground is still customization and integration.

But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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