March 11, 2010

Google Offers Business Apps Through New Web Store

In an effort to persuade companies to rely on applications fed through the Internet, and also to fill their online shelves, Google announced it will sell online services of other business software companies at its new Web store.

The online store was announced late Tuesday in Google's latest attempt to convert the world to "cloud computing." The idea is for users to run applications in Web browsers instead of having to install them on individual hard drives. The information is stored in data centers run by third parties such as Google.

Google has secured 50 software developers to sell their programs through Google, which will collect 20 percent of sales. The prices are expected to run from $50 annually to several hundred dollars annually per customer.

All of the applications sold on the site can be used with Google's cloud-computing services, said Vic Gundotra, the company's vice president of engineering. Companies including well-known Intuit Inc and Concur Technologies will have software available on the Web store.

Cloud-computing is Google's weapon that could weaken its biggest rival Microsoft Corp. They see cloud-computing as a way to deepen people's need for the services it provides and to generate more revenue beyond the Internet search advertising that it has heavily relied on for income.

Google's Web store could also help provide an outlet for low-cost computers that will run on a Google operating system named after its Chrome Web browser. Computers that use Chrome OS will not have a hard drive, meaning they will need Internet access and cloud-computing services to perform system tasks.

Google has been offering free packages of email, word processing and calendar applications since 2006. For users who want more sophisticated packages, Google offers the services for $50 per user.

Google may have a difficult time getting corporate decision makers to back cloud-computing over security issues and business disruptions that could occur if a technological glitch or meltdown might block access to applications and data stored on external servers.

Google has invested billions during the last 5 years to keep its systems running. However, they have had occasional technical problems and users have been cut off from the e-mail accounts in the past.

Google said that more about 25 million people working for more than 2 million businesses, government agencies and schools use Google's applications. Their total revenue last year from software licensing and non-advertising sources totaled $762 million.


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