Google is attempting to entice businesses to use Google Apps in a big way. The Internet search giant has begun promoting its Google Apps business, a Web-based suite of collaboration and messaging applications, on billboards in major cities, including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.
The first Google message promoting the service in a series of daily messages for the next four weeks says: "Day 1: Just heard about going Google. I want to know more."
Google's message to passersby also includes a link to a new Web page on its site google.com/appsatwork.
"The billboards tell the story of an anonymous IT manager who gets so fed up with the typical IT status quo that his company eventually -- you guessed it -- goes Google," wrote Andy Berndt, managing director at Google Creative Lab, in The Official Google Blog.
The Web page is an extension of Google's promotion of the service encouraging newcomers to make the switch from Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps.
Shooting Back At the Competition
Promoting its service two years after first making it available and announcing it with a soft launch in 2007 makes Google's campaign that more interesting, according to Gartner Analyst Whit Andrews.
"It is a great big honking deal," Andrews said. "Big campaigns are scary if you are starting something early, like if they were just creating Apps because they are taking a risk. But they think they know what they are doing with Apps and are ready to bring it to the enterprise."
Google's billboard campaign makes it clear that the company is threatened by Microsoft's Bing, Andrews said.
"Now you are Google and said, 'Microsoft has launched a missile at the heart of our fortress and this time it is not fizzling,'" Andrews said. "This is not a let's trickle in and we'll get the five guys who use Web sites out of a division of 100 and let the word spread slowly. This is hello, Microsoft came out after us in the heart of our business."
Messaging and Collaboration
So what is Google touting? Google's service provides businesses with cost and time savings with its different offerings, including e-mail, instant messaging, and calendar, according to the company.
Using its service, businesses save on the use of software, hardware and patches. Along with messaging services, Google is also touting its collaboration applications, including Google Docs, Google Video, and Google Sites.
Google Docs allows users to share, edit, import and export documents from doc, txt, html, pdf and xls formats. Google Video enables users to use and share videos similar to the way they share and use Google Docs.
Google's collaboration tool Google Sites allows users to bring together content in one place, according to the company. Users can display documents, presentations and spreadsheets without any programming knowledge. It also enables users to share YouTube videos and Picasa slide shows.
Spreading The Word
Google isn't only relying on four weeks of billboards in major cities to spread the word about the Apps service, it's also asking visitors to its site to do the same. Users are encouraged to spread the word about Google using Twitter, Facebook, Delicious and Bing.
The competition between Microsoft and Google, especially in offering cloud services, is expected to grow, according to Andrews.
"If Microsoft keeps introducing products in this business, it can inhibit our business," Andrews said Google executives may be thinking. "If this (campaign) works, Google will do a lot more of it."