Corporate Eye

Google Comes out of Beta

Google Apps that is — and Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Gmail.

In preparation for a brand battle between Google and Microsoft’s suite of Office products, Google has officially removed the “beta” reference from Google Apps, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Gmail.  According to the Official Google Blog, “beta” has been dropped in an effort to specifically target companies who find the beta brand label too risky to take seriously.  And if you want to compete against Microsoft, you’ve got to be serious (notice my sarcasm?).  Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management for Google Enterprise wrote in his post on the Google blog, “We’ve come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn’t fit for large enterprises that aren’t keen to run their business on software that sounds like it’s still in the trial phase.”  Look out Microsoft.  Google has taken off its glove and is ready for a fight!

Let’s face it, Google hangs onto the “beta” label for a long, long time.  Gmail has been in beta for five years!  “Beta” seems like more of a crutch (i.e., excuse if anything goes wrong) than anything else.  In marketing and new product development, we call it a “pilot” program.  But for five years?  “Beta” seems like a stretch after half a decade of active use.  Did anyone really even notice the “beta” label in the logo on Google Apps, Gmail, etc. anymore?

gmail-beta-server-error

The question is whether or not companies will feel comfortable using online applications rather than offline applications for word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, email, etc.  The idea of having many of a company’s critical and/or daily workflow applications hosted by a third-party can be a difficult barrier to cross.  It’s a mind-shift that most people still have trouble making.  Google will have a lot of work to do to make companies feel comfortable making this kind of switch.  Google has the strength of its brand to back up its products. but that power has to be transferred to a new way of thinking and consumers need to feel secure in that new way of thinking before we’ll see a broad shift from offline to online apps.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it will take a lot more than, “but hey, we’re Google,” to get it done.

Your thoughts?  Who will win this battle of the brands?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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