Google Cuts Enterprise Search Prices in Bid for SMBs

Google has rolled out a round of price cuts on its enterprise search family of products, even as it boosts the search capacity of its two main product lines in a bid to appeal to more smaller and mid-sized businesses.

The Google Mini, a search box first made available in January, will be cut in price from US$4,995 to $2,995 and will have the capacity to index 100,000 documents, compared to 50,000 previously.

More for Less

The Google Search Appliance, meanwhile, which Google launched along with its enterprise unit about three years ago, will be cut in price from $32,000 to $30,000 and will now have the capacity to index a half million documents, compared with 150,000 previously. Both appliances can be expanded — the larger one can index up to 15 million documents — at additional cost.

Dave Girouard, general manager of Google’s enterprise business, told the E-Commerce Times that businesses were telling Google that they had more documents they want to have the ability search instantly. For example, many businesses are creating Weblogs that they post on their Web pages. Others want the ability to search their CRM databases with the Google tool.

“It’s a little bit of Moores Law in play in that we can give more for less,” Girouard said. “It’s also a recognition that our customers have a lot of content they want to get a handle on. We’re a solid, growing and profitable business, so this is a move we can make.”

At the same time, employees who work with data inside an organization might have been spoiled to some degree by the relative ease at which Web search can pinpoint information. “Enterprise search has been around a while, but Web search has definitely raised the bar,” he added.

What’s in a Name

Jupiter Research analyst Eric Peterson told the E-Commerce Times that while Google’s competitiveness in larger enterprises might not change much with the new price points, the prices might attract more small businesses that recognize and trust the Google brand.

“They’re offering very attractive multi-year licenses, and that coupled with the Google name brand is going to make it a no-brainer for some small businesses,” Peterson said.

Peterson said a Jupiter study conducted in 2003 found a majority of small business Web sites using a “home grown or patchwork open source” search technology. “That’s just not getting it done today,” he added. That’s especially true for businesses that want to give consumers the ability to search their sites on the Web, where expectations of search effectiveness have risen the most.

“We definitely want to target all the way from the smallest to largest businesses,” Girouard said. “We think the lower starting price will let us get into more smaller businesses. We really hadn’t sold into the SMB market, but it’s clear from the sort of search problems we’re seeing that even smaller companies have the same needs.”

Girouard said smaller businesses are also an ideal market for the Google Mini because it takes little network integration. “There are a lot of customization options, but we tell people they can be out of the box running Google quality search in a couple of hours,” he said.

Google, Google, Everywhere

Google bills its enterprise unit as a startup within the larger Google company, and it has plenty of entrenched competition in the enterprise market, from Fast Search and Autonomy to longtime industry leader Verity.

Peterson said the business likely contributes modestly to the overall bottom line of the search giant, whose growth and profitability is largely fueled by paid search listings.

“In the end, this can be seen as another way to grow the places [in which] Google has a reach and extend that brand into small businesses,” he said.

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