By Seth Weintraub
January 26, 2011

This is an strong move for both companies which will introduce a lot of customers to Google’s Apps.

There seems to be no end to the ‘synergies’ between Google (GOOG) and Verizon (VZ).  Verizon announced today that they were going to bundle Google Apps with their small and medium sized business internet lines that have phone or TV service.  While that isn’t terribly newsworthy in itself (small business owners can get limited Google Apps for free already), the package seems to be a great fit for small businesses that wouldn’t otherwise try Google Apps.

The package includes three free user accounts and additional accounts cost $3.99/month, or  $47.88/year.  The normal cost for full Apps for business users is $50/year so Verizon is saving their customers a few bucks (literally) per user per year here beyond the three free accounts.  Verizon does make a small percentage on each user because Google’s published price for Apps accounts wholesalers is $40/year.

This appears to be a win/win/win for Google/Verizon/customers.  But should you trust your ISP to become your CIO?

The bundles with Google Apps are currently available in Washington, D.C., and parts of 12 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.  Google Apps for Verizon is also available as a stand-alone service to all businesses across the country for $3.99 per month per user.  It wasn’t clear when, if or why other states would soon get the service.  I’m assuming this is a Verizon ramp up issue rather than a legal question but that’s a question for Verizon, which I am waiting to hear back on.

Here’s an interesting quote from the press release:

“Small and medium-sized businesses have been clamoring for a simple, cost-effective solution so they can stay focused on their core business and not waste time figuring out which tools they need,” said Monte Beck, vice president of small-business marketing for Verizon. “With Verizon’s business bundled packages, which now include Google Apps for Verizon, all the essential functions needed to run a business effectively and efficiently are now easily accessible to our business customers and their employees, anytime and anywhere.” …Beck said, “Think of Verizon as a virtual CIO providing the total business solution consisting of all the key productivity tools needed to help business owners meet their business demands, and impress existing and new customers.”

That’s a little frightening to me.  The last thing businesses want to do is tie to a carrier who might decided to jack up the price or change partners at some point.  You are already tied up with Google.  If there is no out plan, you are also tied to Google and Verizon’s relationship being a good one.

Who is to say that at some point down the road, Microsoft doesn’t come in and give Verizon a little cash to push its own small business services on their devices?  Look at what happened on Verizon’s phones.  I’m waiting for clarification from Google and Verizon on this.

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