There were multiple Google+ announcements today (What's Hot, Ripples, Creative Kit), so this news about Google Apps seems to have been lost in the excitement... Google+ announced Google Apps integration today!
Though I expected Google to integrate Google+ into everything Google does, I did not expect this "Google Apps" integration. Why didn't I expect it? Because I didn't even know "Google Apps" exists! Apparently Google Apps is a more focused & integrated set of Google's tools that most of us know about (docs, email, calendar, groups) and it's used for free and in for pay deployments by schools, businesses and collaborative teams. I'm curious, are there any Google Apps users out there reading right now?
Its not hard to imagine how something like G+ could be useful for collaborative groups. And one of the biggest problems of working in a large company is making sure everyone knows where everyone else is on projects that inter-connect. More specifically, the toughest issue with "tracking" or "collaborative" software is that you usually can't get your employees to use the software! Everyone starts out trying to be a good corporate citizen by using the new software they've been given, and gradually they go back to their old ways of connecting and discussing their work. Will Google Apps with Google+ be any different? I think it could be.
A few months ago, I wrote about how Google+ will spread itself into different properties Google owns (Gmail, Youtube, Blogger, etc.) to grab more and more market share over time. I theorized that Google+ would also be successful in "re-activating" users who signed up early to Google+ but don't login regularly. As Google+ starts showing up in more places, they can draw users in to see new things as they launch. That G+ post was turned into an article for The Next Web. You can read it here: http://tnw.co/qBXCOh
Since I didn't know about Google Apps, this is not one of the areas I was thinking about when I wrote that article. But as for picking off "subgroups" of Google's larger audience, this Google Apps integration makes perfect sense. If Google has an installed base of small, active, collaborative teams using their productivity software, that's a great "niche" market to bring into the Google+ fold. It's an obvious strategy for a company in Google's position facing big competitors like Twitter & Facebook, but it's particularly significant because it's something that can actually work
for Google. (This strategy would be very difficult for smaller competitors without the breadth of services and reach that Google has.)
Even more exciting is that G+ is really just so usable
that I can actually imagine groups/teams giving G+ a fair shake and really sticking with it. In short, good move Google -- bravo! I hope the G+ development team and management starts using the Google App productivity software themselves... that'll probably be the best way for the "Apps/G+" integration to get better and succeed over the long term.
PS. I got sick while on my trip to SF and am currently quite ill, so sorry if my ideas are muddled. It's been difficult for me to concentrate. :-)