Google Apps is ready for prime time

googleapps

In a Register interview, Google’s Enterprise boss David Girouard challenges Microsoft’s blended web + desktop view of cloud computing and says that, after four years, Google Apps is mature enough to match up to MS Office.

Refreshingly, he admits their support still isn’t up to scratch. Whether a computer science-driven company can learn customer service is the only real question over the technically excellent Apps products.

Microsoft has never bothered with end-user support, relying on resellers (like us) – which makes sense with software installed on customers’ computers, as the installation is often the problem.

Apple, selling consumer hardware, had to build a network of support staff in its stores as well as telephone support centres – and has succeeded far beyond any other customer products company in these. This is particularly creditable when you remember that Apple was a fairly small technical company learning how to do retail and customer services.

But “100% web-based” Google has no stores and the resellers (us again), not having access to the servers and software, are unable to do any deep troubleshooting. To succeed in Enterprise, Google has to reach the same standards of service support as Apple or the early days of Orange.

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Ben Gladstone is an entrepreneur and CEO and founder of IT services firm, Conosco. Ben did a stint with Coopers & Lybrand, and then co-founded Obongo, a Silicon Valley software company, leading the team that invented, patented and developed the technology for managing online passwords and credit card data. Then in frustration at the lack of high quality computer support for small businesses, he set up Conosco in the mid noughties.