January 12, 2006

Google Adds Two ‘Mini’ Business Search Appliances

SAN FRANCISCO -- Consumer Internet search leader Google Inc. on Thursday said it is introducing two new, higher-capacity systems designed to meet the growing demand to search for documents inside businesses.

The Mountain View, California-based company said it is now offering three Google "Mini" search appliances, used by small to mid-sized companies, including systems that can find up to 200,000 internal documents that sells for $5,995, and a 300,000 document search appliance selling for $8,995.

Search appliances are a combination of hardware and software that can cull through a wide variety of documents by office workers inside an organization, or used externally to allow customers to search through documents on a company's Web site.

The two new devices work like the existing Google Mini search appliance introduced a year ago, which has the capacity to search 100,000 documents and sells for $2,995.

Google has sold thousands of Minis to more than 2,000 organizations, but won't disclose specific figures, Dave Girouard, Google Enterprise general manager, said in a phone interview.

For big businesses and government organizations, the company also offers the Google Search Appliance starting at around $30,000 and running up to $600,000 per appliance for far higher capacity search systems, according to Girouard.

The market for products that search for information inside organizations rather than on the public Internet, the so-called enterprise search market, was around $750 million in 2004, according to data from market research firm IDC.

Search appliances are expected to generate upward of $900 million in sales during 2005, search analyst Sue Feldman of IDC of Framingham, Massachusetts estimated.

In November, the No. 1 supplier of intranet search appliances, Cambridge, England-based Autonomy Corp., agreed to pay around $500 million to acquire Verity, the No. 2 enterprise search company.

Together these companies represent a roughly $200 million search business, compared with Google's roughly $60 million enterprise search products business, which makes it a distant No. 2 to Autonomy-Verity, Feldman estimates.

Norway's Fast Search and Transfer are among other competitors in the fragmented market.

Search appliances represent a tiny fraction of Google revenues. Roughly 99 percent of the company's revenue comes from sales of advertising along Web search results.


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