Google announced the launch of an authorized reseller program for Google Apps.
While some might see this as a direct attack on Microsoft's core product line (which it very well may be), Web hosting companies should really be the entities worrying. If web hosting resellers shift from promoting entire Web business configurations over to Google Apps, small hosting companies could end up all but obsolete. For this to happen though, Google will surely need to beef up its own services. But the threat is certainly there.
For those unfamiliar with Google Apps, it is a SaaS package of business applications such as email, calendar, group site creation, and document collaboration (watch a video on Google Apps here). Over 1 million companies already use the product, and some 3,000 new businesses sign up each and every day.
The challenge, however, for Google is that many of the businesses right for Google Apps don't have the expertise or resources to implement it correctly and integrate it into their existing business processes. That's where authorized resellers come in. Google is aiming to steal away some market share from hosting companies by training affiliates to resell its application bundle.
The Google Apps Authorized Reseller program gives affiliates the opportunity to earn product and service revenue (20% on each $50 per user/per year price) from their new and existing customers by deploying Google Apps. Google provides resellers with the standard marketing collateral (sales tools and technical training) and management accounts (console to create and manage customer accounts).