Google: Three Moves Worth Noting
... worth tracking:
At first glance, Google is making three moves that don’t impact VARs. But take a closer look and Google’s latest efforts could actually have some implications for channel partners. Here are the detals…
… worth tracking:
- Offline Gmail function has graduated from Google Labs and is now available as a fully-supported feature for all users – including resellers. It does exactly what it says on the label: allows you to download certain messages and read them and write replies from their web interface while offline.
- Google Groups, a simple mailing list and discussion forum generator, is now available to enterprise and education users of Google Apps.
- Finally, a Mac OS X beta of Google Chrome, the search giant’s web browser, is now available.
What Does All That Mean?
Offline Gmail has been a feature many of Google’s 146 million e-mail users have been clamoring for since day one, and that clamor got even louder around enterprise users. The Google Labs version has been available for a year, but the final release allows you to do things like add attachments to messages while offline, as well as finer control over which messages get backed up locally.
“Our business customers and partners were a primary driver for this offline functionality,” says Jeff Ragusa, Google Apps channel manager.
The official Google Apps blog has all the details on how exactly it works, but the broad strokes are that there’s a new “offline” tab in the settings window, and from there you can choose which messages to back up. Once done, users can access the Gmail web interface even sans network connection and ready up some replies to go out when your Internet access returns. Something to note is that if you’re using Google Apps on a custom domain, the domain administrator has to enable Offline Gmail.
Meanwhile, Google Groups is, according to another official blog entry, a way for users to share information, documents, videos, and whatever else they need amongst themselves with no IT administration required – low-level users can be assigned as mailing list or forum moderators. It’s been available for ages to regular users; this is the first time it’s being offered as part of the Google Apps suite.
About That Browser…
As for the Google Chrome Beta for Mac OS X: It’s good news for Mac users and channel partners who perviously had to putz around with developer builds, or forgo use all together. The developer build, which still had the Windows-eque frame and title bar is now replaced with the soft gray metal you’ve come to know and love from OS X.
It’s a nice little nod to Mac users, and maybe an apology, since their original promise was that Chrome for Mac was coming in the first half of 2009. All the praises Chrome gets pretty much carry over.
How many VARs reading this leverage the Google Apps suite? Has there been as much demand for Offline Gmail as Google thinks there’s been? And for those few in the audience running OS X, are you planning on giving Chrome a spin?