Google: Apps On A Domain

Written By: Dharmesh Shah August 28, 2006

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?  

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