New Google Mini May Reflect Competitive Pressure

Google's newest search appliance packs in more functionality for less. Why?

 By Michael Hickins
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In a move that may signal new pricing pressure on paid enterprise search, Google is adding several advanced features to its low-end Mini search appliance without changing its prices.

The Mountainview, Calif.-based search company has added enterprise-level security and bundled its OneBox for Enterprise feature into the Mini. OneBox provides search results that include data contained in data repositories such as customer relationship management (CRM) and human resource applications.

Google has also improved the Mini's ability to search a company's public Web site and provide analytic information on customer behavior patterns. All of this without raising the price points of the Mini, which range from $1,995 to $8,995.

The idea is to add more value to its low-end search appliance in the hopes that smaller to medium-sized businesses will prefer it over new entrants such as IBM , which introduced IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition, an entry-level enterprise search tool that is free.

"We're taking what is traditionally expensive enterprise-class functionality and bringing it down to the small business," said Kevin Gough, enterprise product manager at Google. Gough said Google had planned to lower the price point for these features independently of the IBM/Yahoo announcement. Free versions of enterprise search have always been on the market, he noted, and haven't gained significant traction.

"The Mini has always differentiated itself with its user interface and focus on the user experience," he told internetnews.com.

Google still commands a majority of the enterprise search market, but it faces new challengers, and pricing pressure.

Forrester analyst Matt Brown noted that OmniFind has many of the same enterprise search capabilities as those offered by Google, including security, and can search up to 500,00 documents.

The lowest-end Mini, by contrast, searches up to 50,000 documents and goes up to 300,000 documents for the higher-end version. "There's no doubt they're going to featurize the Mini," Brown said.

Nick Patience, an analyst with The 451Group, said the IBM/Yahoo offering changes the game for enterprise search. Google's enhancements to the Mini are an indication that the overall cost of enterprise search is being forced down. "What we may be seeing is the end of paid enterprise search."

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

This article was originally published on Jan 31, 2007
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