Today Google announced the Premier Edition of their fine Google Apps bundle of programs aimed directly at the heart of Microsoft’s Office suite of applications.

I love Google Apps so much I’m writing a book about it for Thomson Publishing called Google Apps Administrator Guide. We have discussed Google’s plans for World Domination in helping you collaborate on the Internet and the Premier Edition of Google Apps for Your Domain is the next step in working together in new and spectacular ways. Here’s what the new Dashboard looks like:

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

For $50 per user a year you get increased email storage space, technical support and a host of other goodies. You can remain on the free Standard Edition for as long as you wish.

This morning I immediately upgraded to the Premier Edition and here’s why:

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

Google Docs and Spreadsheets are now a part of your hosted domain and you can add that service even if you remain on the free Standard version!

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

You can also interact in Real Time with your Hosted Gmail via your BlackBerry:

Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition!

With the Premier Edition you can create resources like rooms or projectors or cameras and share them:

Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition!

Once you create the resource you may add it to your Calendar and other people can subscribe to that resource via their calendars to reserve the resource without your necessary intervention.

Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition!

The Real Power in the Premier Edition of Google Apps for You Domain is in the ADVANCED TOOLS area where you can Bulk Upload users, create a single-point sign-on and invoke the Provisioning API:

Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition

Here’s how you know you’ve officially moved up from the Standard Edition to the Premier Edition:

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

You also get a whopping 10 gigs of email space when you upgrade to Premier!

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

There are also Third Party enhancements in the pipeline you can sign up to use with your Premier account:

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

One of the best things when you pay your own way on the Premier level is the ability to squash all that Google advertising bugging your Inbox and workspace:

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

You also get Tech Support from Google when you pay for the Premier Edition!

Google Apps for your Domain Premier Edition!

I had a few upgrade problems this morning. Google Checkout didn’t like my credit card. I resolved that problem by refreshing the page a few times. Let’s hope my credit card didn’t get repeatedly charged.

I also lost the connection to david.bolesuniversity.com but I was able to quickly restore that setting myself by telling the set up for Google Pages to use the CNAME I previously set. The personalized Start Page, Calendar and Mail login all remained untouched and working after the upgrade process. This morning I also added Google Docs to my personalized domain using a new CNAME entry.

I deleted several user accounts because I don’t want to pay $50 a year for accounts that aren’t being used.

For some strange reason the Premier Edition is telling me I have one more account than I really do and is planning to charge me for that account even though it is not active. I’m glad we’re still in a “free trial period” for the Premier Edition so these bugs can get squashed.

I picked up the phone and called Tech Support to see if they could solve the phantom email account problem. I entered my PIN number into the phone support system and I was connected to someone on a very noisy connection with a heavy Indian accent that sounded like a robot. When I asked if I was speaking to a live person or a robot, the person said, “Can a robot do this?” — and hung up on me!

I called back, entered my PIN again and had a much better connection to someone with a thick Irish accent. The person didn’t really seem to understand the problem and didn’t know how to help me. He took my email address and said he’d be back with me “straight away.” That was an hour ago.

So far Google Technical Support is rather awful! Don’t upgrade to the Premier Edition if you really need help because right now, they do not ooze confidence that they know the system or how to resolve your problems.

I still think Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition is a steal at $50 a year per user — especially when Microsoft is charging $225 per user per year for a less robust work suite with Office and Exchange — and, when you go with Google, they provide and manage the hardware for you.

38 Comments

  1. Here’s the reply from Google:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for your phone call. I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused. I’ve reviewed your account and according to our system, you currently have XXXXX active accounts, the XXXXX that you specified. The most likely cause was that there was a delay in our systems from when you deleted the accounts to being upgraded to Premier.
    To rectify this I suggest that you downgrade your account to ‘Standard Edition’ and then upgrade again to ‘Premier Edition’. Please note that no charge will be made to your account until the end of the free trial on the 30th April. Any charge will then only be for the number of allowed user accounts in your Google Apps account at that time. I’ve also adjusted your limit for allowed user accounts to XXXXXX, as per your instructions. If you require more accounts, you can simply buy more accounts on your ‘Account information’ page in your Dashboard.
    If, as the 30th April approaches and you are still having difficulty with this issue, please reply to this message and I’ll investigate further.
    Sincerely,
    Paul The Google Apps Team

  2. UPDATE:
    The remedies Paul suggests did not work.
    I still have unequal user report counts.
    I am also trying to create a nickname based on a previously deleted account and the system is telling me name is already taken.
    I have reported these problems to Google as well.

  3. Hi Chris!
    It is a pretty sweet deal! Hey, I’d pay $50 a year just to get Tech Support from Google! 😀
    So the fact that I gets Ads removed and 10 gigs instead of 2 makes the pot even sweeter.
    Will you move up your GAYD setup to the Premier Edition or not?

  4. UPDATE:
    Here is the latest reply from Google:

    Thanks for your reply. When an address is deleted it does stay in the system for 5 days, in which it isn’t possible to recreate that address or use it as a nickname. A warning is given before final deletion is chosen. I think the dashboard will reflect this after the 5 days. For more information on the five day rule, please view http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?answer=60741.
    If you do not have any important data in the ‘info’ account, I can delete it straight away without waiting five days and you should be able to add it as a nickname after a short while. Please let me know what you want me to do.
    Sincerely,
    Paul The Google Apps Team

  5. FYI:
    I did not get a warning about the “Five Day Rule” when I deleted the accounts.
    I have asked Paul to immediately delete the account in question.
    I still have an unequal amount of Users being reported in different places.

  6. UPDATE:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for your reply. As I said, I think the 3 users issue is from the ‘deleted’ account remaining in the system for 5 days. I’m investigating your issue and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
    Sincerely,
    Paul The Google Apps Team

    I did not make that connection with the users issue and I thank Paul for pausing to clarify for me.

  7. I am impressed with Paul’s/Google’s interest in helping me today.
    This kind of sorting attention you are following with me in real time to some specific items is a wonderful and refreshing experience when it comes to Google support and well worth more than $50 per user a year alone just for this kind of rapt precision!

  8. Here’s the official announcement from Google:

    Now, I’m excited to tell you that our baby has finally graduated and is entering the business world. Google Apps Premier Edition is a new version designed to take on all the challenges presented by businesses with complex IT needs. For $50 per account per year, you get the whole Google Apps package plus many new business-oriented features, including access to our APIs and partner solutions (so it’s easy to integrate with existing systems), conference room scheduling for Calendar, 10GB of inbox storage, extended business hours phone support, and mobile access to your email on BlackBerry devices (just in case you can’t get enough at the office).

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/02/google-apps-grows-up.html

  9. And this from the Google Docs blog:

    Corporate workers have experienced the pain of document collaboration for years. Nobody could find the latest version of that important spreadsheet. You were on a sales call and that proposal you needed was stuck on your work computer. Your email inbox was full of everybody’s document edits. All that changed with Docs & Spreadsheets. But we kept hearing the same thing from business users – “how do I get everybody in my company using this?” As of today, the answer is easy: Google Apps.

  10. Hi David,
    We might end up doing that because my wife uses her email as part of her work. The fax machine has been replaced by the email in-box.
    Having the 10GB of mail space would be nice. It’s only $4.17 per month — a bargain.

  11. Hiya Chris!
    I agree! You can’t beat the price for 10 gigs a year!
    I just re-upped yesterday with Fastmail.FM and it cost $40.00 USD for 2 gigs of mail space. I like Fastmail a lot as a robust and super-reliable backup but now I’m sort of cringing at the price compared to what came down the GAYD-PE lane!
    😀
    I just love it that Google takes care of all the behind-the-scenes gunk for us. We can just concentrate on business and content!

  12. Hi David,
    It’s nice to not have to worry about the behind the scenes stuff.
    That’s one reason why I like Blogger. It might not have all of the power that WP or other platforms have, but it does have Google standing behind it and it’s easy to operate.
    It’s great to hear that you’ve had good experiences with Google’s customer service. That’s a sign of a great company.

  13. You are right, Chris!
    It’s fine to just sit back and let the technical stuff be handled by the Pros. I have no problem paying for that kind of kind service.
    Blogger is a fine platform and I’m thrilled it works for you.
    I’m surprised I don’t have a resolution yet to the nickname problem by now. I will keep updating this page as new information comes down, but I agree with you the hand holding that went on earlier today with Google support was much appreciated.

  14. You are right, Chris!
    It’s fine to just sit back and let the technical stuff be handled by the Pros. I have no problem paying for that kind of kind service.
    Blogger is a fine platform and I’m thrilled it works for you.
    I’m surprised I don’t have a resolution yet to the nickname problem by now. I will keep updating this page as new information comes down, but I agree with you the hand holding that went on earlier today with Google support was much appreciated.

  15. I think customer service is the way businesses can stand out from the competition as it becomes easier and easier to make and create exciting new products.
    From what I’ve read of your Google experience, it seems to be working well there.
    Also, I’ve been reading a forum where people have been making suggestions to a certain company. Someone brought up Google’s new product offerings, so it will be interesting to see if anything happens on that front. Other companies will have to move to keep up or risk falling behind.

  16. I think customer service is the way businesses can stand out from the competition as it becomes easier and easier to make and create exciting new products.
    From what I’ve read of your Google experience, it seems to be working well there.
    Also, I’ve been reading a forum where people have been making suggestions to a certain company. Someone brought up Google’s new product offerings, so it will be interesting to see if anything happens on that front. Other companies will have to move to keep up or risk falling behind.

  17. Chris —
    I agree customer service is key — and so far Google have been able to get away with providing great “beta” product but without any tangible means of support. Today we now have a way to “buy in” to getting help when we need it and when we want it. That’s a good thing in the marketplace.
    I know some people have had trouble with GAYD — I read their group every day — but I have not had those troubles. I am lucky, I suppose. I live on Google. My calendar is packed with subscribed-to-calendars, I stress their email servers, I have bunches of domains pointing at them and, yet, everything works out just super!
    Google has its eye set on big business. They want hundreds of thousands of people using their stuff. It will be interesting to watch it all play out!
    MSFT doesn’t have a change. Their similar offerings are slow, proprietary and closed. No one wants to use IE7 for anything — even if they’re forced to use it!

  18. Chris —
    I agree customer service is key — and so far Google have been able to get away with providing great “beta” product but without any tangible means of support. Today we now have a way to “buy in” to getting help when we need it and when we want it. That’s a good thing in the marketplace.
    I know some people have had trouble with GAYD — I read their group every day — but I have not had those troubles. I am lucky, I suppose. I live on Google. My calendar is packed with subscribed-to-calendars, I stress their email servers, I have bunches of domains pointing at them and, yet, everything works out just super!
    Google has its eye set on big business. They want hundreds of thousands of people using their stuff. It will be interesting to watch it all play out!
    MSFT doesn’t have a change. Their similar offerings are slow, proprietary and closed. No one wants to use IE7 for anything — even if they’re forced to use it!

  19. Here’s the morning update from Google Support:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for your reply. Just to let you know I have forwarded your issue to
    the relevant team and I apologise for any inconvenience. If after the five
    days, that admin account is still showing up as your third user, please
    get back to me.
    Sincerely,
    Paul
    The Google Apps Team

    Not much news today from yesterday.
    I will keep you updated!

  20. Here’s the morning update from Google Support:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for your reply. Just to let you know I have forwarded your issue to
    the relevant team and I apologise for any inconvenience. If after the five
    days, that admin account is still showing up as your third user, please
    get back to me.
    Sincerely,
    Paul
    The Google Apps Team

    Not much news today from yesterday.
    I will keep you updated!

  21. UPDATE:
    I didn’t hear back from Paul.
    I was charged for the additional account. No charges were supposed to appear on the required credit card until the end of April.
    I decided to activate the extra account since I paid for it.
    Janna’s Blackberry interface is not working. She cannot login to her Hosted Gmail account. An error on the Gmail side asks for captcha confirmation but no captcha is provided! I emailed support yesterday. No response. No acknowledgment of the initial email. I will call them later today. Here’s someone else who is having the same problem.

  22. I wrote to Support and received this robot brush off:

    Hello,
    Thanks for taking the time to send us your message. This is an auto-response with admin support resources. You won’t receive a response from a member of our team.
    To learn more about Google Apps, please visit the Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/a, or by clicking ‘Help’ in your control panel.
    Many administrators are also finding quick and accurate information from the Google Apps Help Discussion at http://groups.google.com/group/hosted.
    Sincerely,
    The Google Team

    Grr!

  23. Joe!
    1. How much would you have to pay a year elsewhere for 10 gigs of email space?
    2. I like being able to call on Google for official support 24/7 — even though it isn’t quite there yet — it’s more like 12/5. 😀 Doesn’t MSFT charge $40 per phone call for support now?
    3. I like the native Blackberry integration.
    4. The integration of the Apps for collaboration under a single hosted workspace is amazing and simple to use.
    5. I enjoy the 99.9% uptime guarantee for email.