In another step toward a friendly takeover of the technology universe, Google said today that it's launching its corporate search tool. Most of us are used to the free approach to Google search, but this requires that its target market of universities, corporations, and government agencies pay up cold, hard cash for the Google Search Appliance.
Anyone who's tried to find information on their company's intranet and found themselves in a tangled mess -- often not even finding the right information after a ton of digging -- understands why such a product would save corporations and their employees loads of time (and money).
Meanwhile, also think of organizations that have large customer service components, where a search across internal data would help them swiftly pinpoint the answers to queries that need to be answered in real time.
Google's Search Appliance, which the company said is already being used by Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM ) , the U.S. Department of Education, Stanford University, and Gannett's (NYSE: GCI ) USAToday.com, costs $32,000 a year for starters.
This new search tool has a lot going on under its hood. For example, Google has perfected "continuous crawl" for ultra-timely searches (the advertising-funded Web version of Google that you and I use has its robots "crawl" the Web monthly to cull new search results). Google's corporate search blazes through more than 300 queries per minute and can handle expanded document collections, which scale from 150,000 to 15 million-plus documents.
Another benefit: It's easy to use, with Google claiming that the server works within 30 minutes of being plugged in, with little technical support needed.
A few months ago, I might have doubted that Google could pull a Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) with search, but I have to admit, it's been coming up with lots of interesting ways to get under our collective, technological skin. It's not just Gmail, Google Local, Froogle, or the other myriad ways it's competing with Microsoft and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) .
Consider the formidable list of products splashed across its Google Labs page -- potential new products currently in beta tests. I stopped by the lab and found several new innovations in beta mode: Google Groups, Google Sets, Google Voice Search, and Froogle Wireless. It's also moved aggressively into a very popular technological area, the blog (or Web log, if you're unfamiliar). (Personally, I'm waiting to see if they ever roll out Google Dates.)
And now, back to reality. The point that Google's trying to reduce its reliance on advertising revenues is one that shouldn't be lost on investors. After all, considering that 95% of Google's revenues are currently from advertisers, it's certainly a risk, when you think of the cyclical and fickle nature of advertising -- and the intense rivalry of the other firms competing with Google in the search game. Drilling into the corporate market is a logical -- and necessary -- step. We'll have to wait and see if it's fruitful.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.