Google: Apps On A Domain

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Google: Apps On A Domain


The blogosphere is buzzing today with Google’s announcement of their new “Google Apps For Your Domain”.

I can’t help but wonder if whoever was responsible for this name (or lack thereof) didn’t derive some inspiration from the “Snakes On A Plane” movie title.  Honestly, this naming style doesn’t really seem effective to me (but then again what do I know).  Google’s big enough now that they don’t need a real name for a product offering, regardless of how difficult it makes it for everyone.  Since Google is Google, doing a Google search on “Apps On Your Domain” unsurprisingly leads to...Google.

Regardless, the real question is, what does this mean for startups?

Answer:  It depends.

Clearly, Google’s announcement is targeted at the two primary competitors in this space:  Microsoft Live and Zoho.

But, I think this announcement impacts anyone selling web-based offerings for information management to small businesses.  These would include offerings like Yahoo! Small Business, GoDaddy, JotSpot and anyone in the “Office 2.0” category offering web-based collaboration tools for small businesses.

If your startup falls into one of these categories, there’s no need to panic (yet), but it may help to think now about ways to get yourself out of the headlights.  I broadly categorize your options in to one of the following:
  1. Narrower Market Focus:  By focusing more intently on a smaller target market base, you can find “white spaces” that are easier to defend.  The big guys are not really equipped to address these smaller, more niche markets.

  1. Broader Service Offering:  Big players often are seeking immense scale – which generally means more automation and less service.  If you can package your offering with a degree service that is necessary to get customers to start beginning deriving value, this could differentiate you.  (I’m not advocating creating products that mandate service, but solving business needs that can’t be completely solved with software).

What are your thoughts?  Does Google’s new announcement mean anything special for specific startups out there?  

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Aug 28, 2006


Excellent points Dharmesh. Google will go for the masses that's for sure and the focused players will survive while the unfocused will face the same unfortunate deal as Kiko

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 2:33 PM by Jean Biri

how is $258k for a year of work unfortunate? they learned a lot and got paid to code in Rails. there are worse fates in life.

anyway, the obvious #3 in that list is design software that doesn't look like ass. think Joyent and Basecamp, not

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 2:44 PM by blegh

It depends on the outlook on the situation. What if with some strategic restructuring Kiko becomes a big and powerful company? $258k was a good ROI. I will not dispute that.
But still, I am sure that when they started, their intent was to build a company not to sell the brand a year later on ebay.
So, it depends on one's perspective...

I agree with your added third point. The software that I am impressed most with lately is from Zoho. Nice tools!

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 2:54 PM by Jean Biri

Can we have the comments posted on this forum include the websites of the posters? It is sad to read good stuff from people without being able to somehow find more about them.

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 4:03 PM by Jean Moniatte

Jean: Thanks for reminding me about this missing feature. It's come up before, but I keep forgeting.

Issue is now resolved. All commenters that inlcude a URL at the time of entering comments will get a link back to their site. This includes all previous comments as well (we were storing the URL, just not using it).

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 4:50 PM by

Enough with Kiko. They did okay. Let's move on.

The effectiveness of Google Apps will depend entirely on Google's ability to actually deliver a finished, well rounded product. I love their search and adsense etc, but almost every other tool they've come out with is NOT suited for broad appeal beyond a fairly technical audience.

From all of the quotes etc coming out of Google, it appears that they are focused on cool technology far more than usability. As techies, we tend to forget that the vast majority of people in the world do not have our patience for quirky tools.

It is far too early to be sounding death knells for other software companies at this point. Even if Google do a good job, there will always be room for the rifle versus shotgun approach.

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 6:44 PM by fewquid

"there’s no need to panic (yet), but it may help to think now about ways to get yourself out of the headlights" - This is the least expected out of another so called entrepreneur. I don't understand why we loose our nerve so easily looking at Google or some other big fat guy.

Is there any entrepreneur who builds a business thinking that Yahoo/Microsoft/Google won't enter the market? Or we forget for some strange reason that every big fat guy starts so small just like any other.

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you have lost." - George Shultz

If it is any solace, consider having a look at this link:
Google is just a dummy with a big mouth in everything except search.

And see how so many are shining against the biggies:

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:06 PM by Murali

Link to Seth Godin's rankings page is broken somehow in the comment. Here again:

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:08 PM by Murali

It looks like, there is some filter for the comments that is removing seth godin after Try searching in Goolge for, Seth Godin's Web 2.0 Traffic Watch List.

Apologies for repeated posts.

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:11 PM by Murali

Murall, the reason companies ought to be scared of the big fat guy is that since they have more resources (money, personell, exposure, media visibility), they can quickly replicate or outdo the concept of the upcoming small start-up.
The only good thing is that usually big fat companies are slow to realize the potential of innocent looking ideas and when they smell the coffee, it's usually too late. Look at now everyone (Sony recently) is buying online video services to try and catch up but is there a doubt that for now You Tube has become the king of the hill?
Start-up should not become paranoid but they should also have a plan of action should a big company make a move on their turf.

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:21 PM by Jean Biri

Murali: I'm not suggesting that startups should run scared at the mere sight of a big competitor. But, I think the odds of survival grow with a startup teams ability to face reality (whatever it might be).

I think it is naive to simply run scared because a big guy enters, but its equally naive to dismiss a competitor simply because it is big. They have a unique set of resources and capabilities and will have varying impacts on the market.

My approach has been to stay mindful of what competitors are doing. Ignoring them is rarely a smart thing to do. You don't have to respond to them, but you do have to acknowledge them.

posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:36 PM by doesn't look like ass - comparing it to Basecamp is like saying a Boeing 747 is so much more complex than a bicycle. Comparison makes no sense.

I'll take $3.81 Billion any day over Basecamp! :)

posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at 2:35 PM by anon

I guess my comment was slightly misunderstood.

1. As I mentioned, I believe no entrepreneur builds a business thinking that Yahoo/Microsoft/Google WON'T enter the market. For some of them, their exit strategies have Y/M/G/* in Bold letters.
2. I meant that we should not loose our nerve when we learn that Y/M/G/* enters our area and start focusing in a slightly different area or market segment. Theoretically one can say, you realign your priorities and focus on a different segment. But that will be a mistake, because now you are entering into unchartered waters where you are NONE. Its like you are an athlete training for 100m streak. Now a champion enters, you go for highjump? Doesn't make sense.
3. Learn from the same big guys how they tackled it in the same position. They also started small some point of time.

I am not saying that we should not consider the big guys, but what I am saying is why is their entry a surprise in the first place?

I expected a much supportive suggestion from entrepreneurial blogs than 'run away' and find another street.

posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 9:04 PM by Murali

Murall, your second point compares focusing on a segment to competing in two different disciplines. A race has one ultimate winner while a business competition can have an overall winner and niche champions.

Google is the king of search, a general category but Technorati is the champion of blog search, a sub category.

According to your comparison, Technorati should have gotten into blog hosting for example, a different category.

I guess that I am trying to say that 1) a 100m and High Jump are two different categories while a focus usually is a segmentation of a category.
2) An athletic race cannot be compared to a business one as in a race there is only one gold (no one ever remembers the silver and bronze medalists - do a small test on your own to find out), while a business race can have many winners depending on the choices of different segments of the market.

I hope my point comes across without too much confusion

I like your third point... Some people call it "modelling success"

>I am not saying that we should not consider the big guys, but what I am saying is why is their entry a surprise in the first place?

Now we agree on this point... why don't these entrepreneurs make provision of this in their business plan in the SWOT section?

Lastly, if Goliath came to kick my butt, it would be better to run away and go figure out how to fight him (go purchase a bazooka for instance lol) than stay there and become a (dead) legend of a person who did not know when to duck

posted on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 2:22 AM by Jean Biri

My, I hate to be the crumudgeon but where's the beef? Great packaging, yes. But this has been done before. Like if memory serves Yahoo launched something very similiar 4-5 years ago. And many of those same services are still available from them today as disparete entities.

The difference is (to use a cattlemans terminology), where Yahoo was 'pen fed' you had to use their site. Google is 'free range' you use your own site and intergrate. That difference is a subtle plus in my view but is it enough to be going around saying WOW?

Personally I would have been expecting more. More in the way of collaboration tools other than just chat. Something to compete with LiveMeeting from M$. Or collaborative project mgt tools. There are many out there but none that have the right interface and record locking attributes to be useful in real time.

Fact is I find the Google SketchUp! package in concert with Google 3D Warehouse much more significant than this offering.

Just my take.

posted on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 1:10 PM by john mcginnis

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