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Google Apps chief says cloud apps are poised for major success

Chrome Web Store is still in early days, says Sundar Pichai

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The Chrome Web Store, open to developers since mid-2010 and to end users since late 2010, is still at a nascent stage, but has the potential to succeed in a major way, according to a Google executive.

So far in this initial phase, Google feels it has done a good job promoting the idea of apps running within a desktop browser to consumers, as evidenced by the fact that the Store's app installs have doubled in the past three months, said Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Chrome and Apps.

Currently, Chrome browser users install about one million applications from the store every day, he said. "We're pretty excited about the opportunity there, but it's still early days," Pichai admitted.

The next stage is for developers to start earning money from apps, whether by selling them outright or through in-app payment features, according to Pichai. There will be a "whole slew" of new game applications added to the store, along with more productivity applications, he said.

Asked about the Google Apps collaboration and communication suite, Pichai acknowledged that most customers are still small and medium-size businesses, but that there has been a shift toward acceptance in the past six months by CIOs of large enterprises.

As a result, Google is seeing Apps adoption among large companies and organisations accelerate, he said, offering as examples two recent big customer wins; Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, which will roll out Apps to its 110,000 employees worldwide, and Roche Group, which will adopt Apps for its 90,000 employees globally.

"That's a profound shift we're seeing," he said.

Large companies' privacy and security concerns about the cloud-hosted model of collaboration and communication suites like Google Apps have lessened, he said.

CIOs also used to worry a lot more about the "feature gap" between the Docs productivity suite of Google Apps and an on-premise competitor like Microsoft Office, but now their priorities have started to shift, he said.

Now, it's becoming more important for enterprises to have a productivity suite that can be deployed across multiple devices, including phones and tablets employees bring to work from home, he said.

"The current model of how you use productivity apps is extremely tied to a Windows-centric view of how you use them," he said, adding that as that model changes, the "value proposition" of Google Apps gets a boost.

Of course, arch rival Microsoft sees things differently. Asked for comment about Google's announcement of its Roche Group customer win, Microsoft said that the announcement is an attempt by Google to "build credibility with the enterprise audience".

"As Google's past history has shown, winning customers is one thing, keeping them is another," Microsoft said.



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