Is Google your Business’ New Best Friend?

Posted by on July 14, 2009 in Business News, Business Technology, VoIP [ 0 Comments ]

Business ServicesEven if you missed Google’s official announcement last week you’ve probably heard by now: Google Chrome, an operating system designed to work seamlessly with the Google Chrome browser, will roll out in 2010.  Chrome is the company’s attempt to “re-think what operating systems should be-” it relies on cloud computing, and will be targeted at net books- inexpensive laptop computers purchased mostly for internet use.

It’s been a big year for Google.  In addition to announcing Chrome, they also unveiled Google Voice- by invite only, naturally- after purchasing the GrandCentral online phone service.  Google Voice isn’t quite as revolutionary as Chrome, though it has plenty of fans already.  Both Google Voice and Chrome are free, and provide most-if not more- of the features of competitors who charge for services.  A small business owner’s dream, right?  Cutting-edge services that offers professional functionality and easy user interface…for free?  Did Google just become your business’ new best friend?

Here’s an overview of these products and how they can have a big impact on your business:

Chrome- What Makes An Operating System So Important?

The operating system is one of the most basic components of your computer- chances are, you use a Microsoft OS if you’re using a PC (most business owners do).  The cost of the operating software alone can send the cost of a new computer into the thousands- you need to pay for the software itself, plus a license for each user.  Google Chrome, which uses cloud-computing technology, is free.

This means you can purchase net books, used, or refurbished computers- saving big on hardware costs.  Research company DisplaySearch has already reported a large surge in net books to retail outlets, anticipating that around 32.7 million will be sold next year- up from 16.4 million this year.

Using a cloud computing based OS (Operating System) is not only less expensive; it also allows more flexibility for business owners that travel or that work from the field.  You’ll have more data storage available at a less expensive cost, and are not tied to licensed products.  Ever tried to open a document that someone stored in WordPerfect?  A seamless OS/Browser experience eliminates this problem.  You can’t download WordPerfect or other Microsoft programs immediately, but you can install Google Docs or Open Office – two completely free office applications that create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations as easily as the Microsoft programs many of us are used to- in seconds.

Chrome isn’t available yet- it’s set to roll out at some point next year.  If you’re holding off making a computer purchase or upgrading operating software, waiting until then could be a good idea.

Voice- The Future of Phone Systems?
Voice is the new, Google-branded version of the GrandCentral technology the company purchased two years ago.  Google Voice works similarly to GrandCentral’s service model- you choose a phone number (the example on the Google blog shows how you can choose a number that spells out words) and program your own mobile devices or IP-enabled phones to ring when it is called, similar to most basic VoIP phone systems.

Voice has a host of cool features that are ideal for business owners: You can store voice messages and make calls using your computer, automatically transcribe voicemails for viewing as an email (enabling you to search emails and voicemails based on certain key words), and program certain phones to ring (office, home) based on who is calling.  Business owners who want a “mobile office” will be served well.  You’ll still need to pay for cell phone service in order to have your calls, texts, and data routed to your mobile device, similar to the way most other VoIP telephone systems operate.  Google Voice is currently available to past GrandCentral users and the general population by invitation only.

The New “Empire”?
Google’s motto, “Don’t be evil,” is often seen as sarcastic reference to Microsoft’s (the “evil empire”) industry domination.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times pointed out this irony as Google introduces more and more products that are designed to work with other Google offerings.  Many worry about the security risks involved when one source is relied upon for every key business operation- especially when data is stored using cloud computing.  Time will tell if Google has plans to usurp Microsoft or even follow their established model for obtaining a customer monopoly over certain segments.  For now, enjoy the competition between the two- it seems to be producing better options for all small business owners.

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