Google Inc. has released a version of Google Apps tailored for ISPs (Internet service providers) and Web portals, growing this family of hosted collaboration and communication suites for organizations.
Like the other versions, Google Apps Partner Edition will feature Gmail for e-mail, Talk for instant messaging, the Docs & Spreadsheets applications, Page Creator for Web publishing, Calendar for schedules and task management and the Start Page suite entry point, Google said Friday.
There are also Standard and Education versions of Google Apps, both of which are free. The Premier Edition costs US$50 per user per year and offers uptime guarantees and more e-mail storage than the other two.
Google didn't give pricing details about the Partner Edition in its official blog posting announcing its availability. However, in an information page, Google hints that the Partner Edition will not be free, saying it is designed "to meet the specific needs of service providers -- affordably." The company also didn't explain how this version will cater specifically to ISPs and Web portals.
All versions of Google Apps let organizations brand the Google applications with their own logos and provide them using their own Internet domain.
Hosted business applications represent a relatively new area for a company that generates practically all of its revenue from search engine advertising. The move has also placed Google in competition with Microsoft Corp.'s Office suite of desktop productivity software.
Google executives have repeatedly said that the Apps suite represents the future of software provisioning, because it facilitates workgroup collaboration and simplifies software installation and maintenance, as opposed to desktop software like Office. However, questions remain about the hosted model, including concerns about storing data in vendors' servers, about the ability to work offline and about server downtime.
Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.