Google aims more appliances at business users

Google aims more appliances at business users

Google has bulked up its Mini line of search appliances, a year after the product's initial introduction. The two new appliances, aimed at medium-sized businesses, follow on from what the company calls a year of skyrocketing sales for Google Mini.

Google introduced Google Mini last January to complement its pricey, business-orientated Google Search Appliance. The product, sold exclusively online, initially sold for US$4,995, with the capacity to index 50,000 documents.

Google Search Appliance line, by contrast, started at US$30,000 and indexed 100,000 documents or more (since boosted to 500,000 or more).

In April Google upped the indexing capacity of the Mini to 100,000 and cut the price to US$2,995. The two new models sell for US$6,000 and US$9,000 and index 200,000 and 300,000 documents.

Google's appliance line is a small part of its business, but the company said that it hoped that it would grow significantly in time. At the same time, the inexpensive hardware -- targeted at companies who can't afford US$30,000 for search services -- is giving Google a new kind of ubiquity, according to industry analysts.

"People have tons of clocks around the house, and now they're also starting to have a lot of computers around. That's the way Google's going to be, it's going to be everywhere," said RedMonk analyst James Governor.

Google Search Appliance competes with hardware from companies such as Microsoft, Verity (the leader in search hardware), the U.K.'s Autonomy and Norway's Fast Search & Transfer. These companies mainly focus on the enterprise, and no one has as yet managed to make a breakthrough in the market for smaller businesses.

Google says Mini sales have grown significantly, though it hasn't released figures. Forrester Research has said Google could succeed where others have failed because of its brand recognition and deep pockets.

In November Google introduced a program urging rivals' customers to switch over to Google Search Appliance and Google Mini. The program is aimed at customers of rival Verity, which recently announced that it would be sold to Autonomy for US$500 million.

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