Cloud Email: Has The Market Stabilized At $5 Mailboxes?

A new Forrester Research report indicates that Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and IBM -- which is to say, the major SaaS email players -- have more-or-less reached price parity for cloud messaging at about $5 per user per month, confirming that the cloud is axiomatically cheaper than on-premise for most MSPs and the enterprises they serve. Here’s the scoop.

As InfoWorld notes, the Forrester Research report indicates that the $5 will generally get you 25GB of storage. It’s broken up different ways -- the $50 annual charge per user for Google Apps works out to around $4.17 while IBM LotusLive has tiers of $3 to $5 -- but it appears that that’s the general rule of thumb in the SaaS marketplace now.

That means it’s less the cost itself that’s going to be the market differentiator going forward and more about the value-add. For instance, Cisco WebEx cloud messaging services only charge an additional $1 per user per month for BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) functionality.

While Google Apps can’t match that, the Google Docs suite that comes with the Google Apps Premier Edition subscription is plenty of sweetener on its own. And on Microsoft’s part, their cloud solutions can integrate with Outlook and other familiar applications.

That same report indicates that Microsoft and Google are leading customer-wise in the cloud messaging and collaboration market, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The bigger question: Will VARs and MSPs resell the Microsoft and Google solutions, or will solutions providers look for white label options that allow them to control branding?

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