Google and Verizon think small business customers are pretty stupid

Cost-saving bundle is a lot of noise for almost no benefit at all

Verizon and Google have a deal they think is great for small business customers.

Well, very, very small business customers.

Customers that have three employees or fewer, are close enough to financial disaster that $5 a month could make or break them, and are not smart enough to see the difference between "marketing" and "BS."

Sound compelling?

The package is essentially a straight Verizon broadband Internet account, though Verizon makes a big deal about it including WiFi -- via the wireless router that comes with every Verizon account.

Customers who sign up for a bundle of two or more Verizon Internet services -- TV, VoIP and broadband access get a free, three-user Google Apps account and a custom domain name for a year.

The only thing different about the bundle from an ordinary Verizon account is the name, Google Apps for Verizon, the free accounts, and the volume of overly earnest, way-too-excited language in the marketing.

Three free Google Apps accounts, at $50 per user per year, and a domain name for which Google charges $10, adds up to $160 in savings.

Verizon's description calls it $140, so I'll go with that, divide by 12 months, and realize the bundle would be saving me a total operational expense of $5 per month.

Any additional end users will cost $3.99 per month, or $47.88 per year. That's $2.12 in additional savings per employee!

For what Verizon says is a set of services that will "help streamline your small business."

Five bucks a month is streamlining?

Verizon may mean that the Google apps are easier to use and maintain than on-premise versions of the same thing, which is true within a certain value of "how big a pain is this to maintain."

Or it could mean the online backup and recovery and other services it can supply through the same pipe -- for an additional charge.

Since those are all available anyway, and small businesses that use Exchange and Office instead of cloud-based apps are going to have some migration costs, I'm going to say the five bucks a month is not going to be the selling point.

And if I'm already sold on the cloud approach, bundling Google with Verizon -- which is probably indistinguishable from just having Verizon broadband and just going to Google -- is also not going to do it.

Which makes the whole offer just kind of ridiculous. Like offering to sell eggs at $1 each or a dozen for $11.99. There's some benefit, but it's smaller than the effort to discern it, especially if you're blowharding it all over the Web to make people think you're really offering them something special rather than just hooking up the Internet and letting them do what they'd probably do with it, anyway.

Dial it down a notch, V.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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