Google and Verizon think small business customers are pretty stupid

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

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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.

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