There is no denying the fact that Google is a big believer in cloud computing and web based software. In fact much of their future growth is built on the principal of getting as many people as possible using their software whether it be Google search, Gmail or their Google Docs suite of office type programs. This of course is putting them in direct competition with Microsoft which means it has had to find different ways to get their software in the hands of consumers.
One of the principal ways that they have done this is to use the same tactic that Apple and Microsoft have been using for years – hit the colleges and universities. The first prong of their attach started over two years ago with them making the education providers an offer they couldn’t really refuse in a climate of growing IT costs. Google would provide them unlimited hosted email and other applications all of which would be branded by the institution for the price of – free.
With things like their browser, a possible operating system, and the in development Google Wave being added to this package Google has a chance to become an ingrained part of the student’s lives as they move from school to the business world. Right now Google is already providing services to some 4 million students and is providing serious competition to Microsoft for access to 17 million students on the more than 4,000 campuses in the US.
The campus push is part of Google’s broader bid to breed a generation of workers comfortable with the concept of “cloud” computing, and particularly Google’s version of it, where Google provides free web-based services in exchange for advertising dollars. “We want to build relationships with these users for life,” said Jeff Keltner, Google’s business development manager for the program.
Source: Business Insider – Google’s 17 Million Built-in Chrome OS Users (GOOG)
The ability to offer colleges and universities a way to save millions of dollars a year in IT costs is making Google an almost irresistible force for these institutions while at the same time creating a constantly refreshing generation of Google users.