Popular consumer services like Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Reader and most importantly, Google Voice are coming to Google Apps’ Standard, Premier and Education Edition customers this Fall.
Until now, Google Apps users would have to use their personal Gmail accounts if they wanted to use any applications outside of the Apps collaboration suite. That was unfortunate because services like Picasa, Blogger and Reader have plenty of use in business.
Today, Google announced that all services (allowed by their administrators) would be available to Google Apps customers starting this Fall.
While it wasn’t mentioned specifically in the blog post, a huge new enterprise app will be Google Voice. Apps administrators will absolutely love the ability to manage voice mailboxes and phone numbers within the Administration panel. Business users will also get a great deal of utility out of having their Voice mailbox tied in with their email accounts.
Google purchased Gizmo5 VoIP service last year and is believed to be integrating it into its Voice service for a full, end-to-end, Skype-like service. At some point, Google should be able to offer business customers a full VoIP PBX solution based on this technology.
This move should add some incentive for businesses who are considering moving their infrastructure to the cloud. Now they can also manage company blogs, photo albums, and most importantly, Voice communications through Google’s administration panel for $50/user/year for Premier customers. Apps Standard is free (with advertisements) and Educational customers work out specific deals on a case-by-case basis.
One caveat, however, is that these additional applications won’t initially be covered by the core suite’s support and service level agreement. For photo albums, that might not matter. For Voice services, most companies will want an SLA in place before making the move.
UPDATE: Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs told me, “Google Voice is currently available by invite only, so it’s in a separate category than the apps we’re talking about, which are already broadly available to consumers. That said, we believe Google Voice will be a valuable service to organizations using Google Apps, and we’re exploring business-specific features to make it even more useful in the business context.”