Google releases team edition of popular apps

Google has added a new version of its productivity applications, designed for groups — such as people in an office or school — who are already using Google Apps including its word processor, spreadsheet or calendar.

You log in using your work email domain (such as example@venturebeat.com) and the applications recognize if others using the same domain are already using the “Team Edition”. This is another clever way for Google to funnel more people into using its applications.

Anecdotally, many college students and workers in small businesses are using Gmail, and getting hooked on other applications through integrated features. Example: You open an emailed Word document within Gmail, and it converts to a Google Doc online document that you can edit live, with your coworkers. The company says only that more than half a million businesses are using Apps, already, although the company hasn’t released much data on how many people are using these apps on a regular basis.

Apps are also an increasingly promising way for Google to monetize through something besides advertising. Google charges larger organizations for a set of premium App services. While many organizations will never upgrade, some will, and the more useful Apps become, the more people will switch from market leader Microsoft’s set of office applications.

This integration between a range of work-related features also strikes me as serious competition for many project management application startups, such as Zoho, Thinkfree and others. VentureBeat, for example, has found itself using many Google Apps even though we also have experimented with a broad range of other online project management applications for organizing our contacts and tasks.

Note: Google is also working with online business software company Salesforce, which provides ways for extensively customizing many types of more complex business applications. This strategy of building standard applications like word processing then integrating with more specialized productivity services may lead to more sophisticated users, including larger businesses (that are comfortable giving Google access to their data).

Some of the the things team edition includes, according to Google:

• Work on the same document, spreadsheet or presentation (instead of emailing changes in multiple copies of the same attachment)
• Publish documents and calendars for the team to view and update
• Access information from any computer, even mobile phones
• Google Calendar to arrange meetings, set schedules, and publish event information
• Google Talk for instant messaging and free PC-to-PC voice calls
• Start Page where users can access their Google Apps services and customized content

To sign up for Google Apps Team Edition or learn more, you can visit http://www.google.com/apps.