Google Apps is a “software as service” option for small (and large) businesses. My favorite feature is a paid version of Gmail. It’s worth the $50 per year I’m spending to use it. (I don’t really use the other features, except for the calendar.)
You may wonder, especially during these interesting economic times, why I would want to pay for something that I could get for free…
Simple. Because you can’t brand typical Gmail. Sure, you can “sort of” brand it by placing your business name before the @gmail part and you can set it up to “send on behalf of” your business email, but it’s still got the stigma of a freebie account. It makes you look like you are less than serious about your business.
I only wish the cool Glabs stuff available for Gmail would be made available on a quicker schedule for Google Apps. That’s a bit bothersome.
You get much MUCH more space with a Google Apps account. Google Apps offers 25 gigs for a paid account, whereas Gmail only offers 5 gigs.You can easily upload all your email accounts to this one place, and enjoy the benefits of an archive of all emails from all time.
The apps version allows you to change the CNAME records on your hosting account so you can send from Gmail and “originates” from your website domain. Not an simple automatic setup, but once you do the steps, it’s bulletproof.
The joys of Gmail are many. It’s got a kickin’ search feature (you would expect no less from Google, right?).
You may, like me, be one of those “nested folders” people with your email. That’s “old-school” once you have Gmail or Google apps. With creative use of tags and the search, there’s no need… in fact now WAY… to use folders anymore. That may rock your email world for the first few days, but you quickly begin to wonder why in the HECK you had all those folders within folders and how you ever found anything that way.
I keep a backup of my mail on my computer by using the download feature (without removing the items from the Google server) into my resident mail program. I don’t send and receive from that resident program, but I know that I have a backup of all my mail, should something unforseen happen. Within just a few minutes I could re-upload it all.
I like web apps, but I’d not want to rely on them without a personal backup. I’m just too paranoid for that.
My iPhone is set up to fetch my email and I can send and receive with ease, while on the go. I use Google Apps mail as my primary contact management database too and pull down a copy in vcard format once a month as a backup.
The nice thing about using Google Apps is that you end up with a branded email that isn’t tied to a particular host, a particular computer or a particular operating system. Universal email is now on tap from anywhere! And when you work remotely, that’s really nice. It’s good to be mobile and flexible. Once you have a connection to the Internet — ANY connection to the Internet — you have access to your email and your contacts.
I’ve tried, tested and used a plethora of email programs, services and software over the years. I can’t imagine changing to anything else. Google apps mail trumps the competition. It’s just too convenient, mobile friendly, and too easy to search to have any real competition right now!
(Photo courtesy of seabreeze)