Google is getting down to business with its digital enterprise-friendly products. The technology giant just rolled out a Google Apps Referral Program and Google Docs and Sheets add-ons.
Prajesh Parekh of Google Apps marketing is talking up the referral program, comparing it to recommending a new coffee shop or a tool that that drives workplace efficiency. Google Apps would fall into the latter category. But unlike recommending a coffee shop or a new iPhone app to your buddy, recommending Google Apps will fetch you a $15 prize.
"Many of the millions of Google Apps customers learned about tools like Hangouts, Drive and Gmail for business from their customers, friends and networks," Parekh said. "The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they, too, can use these tools at work. To show our appreciation, we're offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer."
Meanwhile, Dan Lazin over at the Google Apps team is giving folks one more reason to sign up for the digital products: Google Docs and Sheets add-ons. Lazin described these as new tools created by developers that aim to give end-users more features in their documents and spreadsheets.
"Joining the launch are more than 50 add-ons that partners have built using Apps Script. Now, we're opening up the platform in a developer-preview phase," Lazin said. "If you have a cool idea for Docs and Sheets users, we'd love to publish your code in the add-on store and get it in front of millions of users."
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on Google's moves. He told us the referral fee could get interesting.
"It's not a huge amount of money to a company like Google and I don't think it's enough money to be much of a temptation for people to refer a handful of friends and family," King said. "But if you are a business reseller and either not working with Microsoft or have a relationship with Microsoft that is not particularly close, it could represent a nice revenue opportunity for you and a chance for Google to capture more business."
Indeed, if an IT reseller could convince a business with 50 or 100 employees to switch to Google Apps it would be a lucrative venture. It's not certain what motivated Google to do this, though King speculates the company may be seeing a plateau in sign-ups. What better way to get end-users to evangelize your product than offering a few bucks for a kind word?
"Google wants to capture business users, and those are the users that Microsoft is loathe to lose. Those people, if they are buying boxed office software, are paying a couple of hundred bucks for user," King said. "If they are considering Office 365, they are looking at $50 to 100 a year per user. The idea of moving to a free productivity suite like Google apps could be an attractive incentive for businesses."