Google gets serious about office apps: Offers $15 for referrals

Google gets serious about office apps: Offers $15 for referrals

Summary: We all know about the free Google Docs service, but Google also offers a subscription Google Apps for Business service. Now, Google will give its existing customers a $15 referral bonus for every new user they bring to this service.


Google just got serious—really serious—about taking on Microsoft Office, and Office 365 in particular. In a blog posting on March 10th Prajesh Parekh, a Google marketing lead, wrote "we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer."

Google Apps for Business
Google will pay Google Apps for Business customers $15 a head for new users.

Well, that's one way to get customers!

Google Apps for Business is a cloud-based office suite. It consists of Gmail; Google Calendar; Google Drive; Google Docs; Slides, a PowerPoint-like presentation manager; and Sheets, Google's answer to Excel. There's also Google Apps for Business with Vault. This last program adds e-mail archiving for e-discovery to Google Apps. For some businesses this is a legal requirement.

Google Apps for Business costs $5 a month per user or $50 a year for users. There is no limit to the number of users you can have on this service. Google Apps for Business with Vault costs $10 a month.

There are also some third-party apps, such as Insightly, a small-business customer relationship management (CRM) program, that you can use with Google Apps. In addition, some Google programs, such as Hangouts for video-conferencing and Google Voice, a VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol), are often used with Google Apps for Business even though they don't come as "official' parts of the office suite.

Parekh said, "When we discover something amazing – whether it’s a new local coffee shop or a tool that improves the way we work – we want to share it with people we know so they can also benefit."

"For those of us who use Google Apps, the ability to access all of our documents from anywhere on any device and being able to seamlessly collaborate with colleagues or customers across the world, are impressive moments," continued Parekh. "These are moments we want to share with friends and colleagues because the more the people in our networks use Google Apps, the more seamlessly we can collaborate with them -- whether it’s video conferencing via Hangouts, working together on Docs or sharing calendars. Best of all, it means we can all begin to experience a new way of working."

To encourage users to share to the "joys" of Google Apps, Parekh wrote, "To help continue the momentum, we’re launching the Google Apps Referral Program. The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they too can use these tools at work." This program is only available to users in the US and Canada. "To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer."

The fine print makes  Google Apps referrals sounds like a pretty good deal. You'll get $15 per user, and you’re rewarded for each referral customer’s first 100 users. A user is an individual account belonging to the customer domain. So, if you got a business to sign up with 100 users you'd get $1,500. Not bad, not bad at all!

Your earnings are paid directly to your bank account. Users that save your referrals will get coupons that will save them $10 per user for the first year. Believe it or not, you can refer an unlimited number of customers. To keep people honest, your referral amount will be based on the number of users who have paid for at least 120 days. So, you can forget about setting up and trying to trick Google into paying you heaps of money.

I must say that this sounds like a very attractive deal to me, and I'm sure it will to many other Google apps users as well.

Some people have already wondered how on earth it can be worth $15 a customer for Google. The answer is that even if you don't assume users will stay on a few years at $50 a year, or $5 a month at the low end, Google should be profiting after the first  three months of paid use. And as I pointed out, to get the $15 payout they'll actually need to be paying customers for four months. This only look like a loss leader. Google, besides denting Microsoft Office use, will profit from this deal.

Related Stories:

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Google, Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Google gets serious about office apps: Offers $15 for referrals

    Let me laugh a head of time to Owls comment.
    • Don't forget the other two

      personalities that go with the Owl:, you know WF and LD :)
      • Owl must be grounded

        18 mins and still no comment from our pro MS troll........
        • And yet Rick and WhoIsHeKidding were the first to comment

          In a most shilling way.

          Food for thought.....

          • Mr. Farrel you have a point?

            Not sure what it is. Hopefully it has more to do with the article,
            than what you wrote.
          • As opposed to what Rick and WhoIsHeKidding wrote?

            daikon, are you serious?

            Re-read your own post.
          • Will, You must be those same people.......

            “Those same people tend to call anyone who questions, or corrects an inaccurate or false statement as "shills" and "trolls", as they believe only their opinion is the right one, and are angered when they're caught making stuff up.”
            -William.Farrel 22 February, 2014 18:49

          • That's the thing, Rick

            I never make stuff up.

            Unlike the same people here who claim they've been "MS free for 5 years" telling us how crappy their last 3 WP8 they bought were.

            Unlike the same people here who praise [insert company] for making profit while posting how MS is really "cooking the books to show billions in profit" as oppose to really "losing billions each quarter".

            Unlike the maniacs who seem to lose sleep over the choice of a product that isn't their choice, one where person chooses MS over Apple or Google, who claim anyone and everyone that comments positively on MS or it's products is a paid shill or troll.

            Hey, I'm always honest in my opinions, but I'm also straight forward in reference to the obvious shills, troll, and the like who's mission it is to disrupt the boards because they don't want someone using MS or Apple products. They ask for no respect, so why should we give them any?

            And thanks for posting that, as it was true then, and it's still true now.
          • Will, Don't get so upset

            Your taking what gets posted way to serious.
      • I see the first 2 of you from the "Frightened Fellowship"

        have arrived.

        • Will, What is the "Frightened Fellowship"?

          Do explain in detail......
    • I suppose an honest reply would be that Google may be getting...

      ...not so much "serious" as "desperate."

      Certainly, SVJN would spin it that way if this were MS offering referrals.
      x I'm tc
  • re Google Sheets

    if Google were serious about the spreadsheet part of Apps, it'd be more capable. For example, something which has been common since 1989: easily summing across several worksheets. Google Sheets requires custom funcitons to do this.

    Anyone who recommends to another that they run a business using Google Apps is no friend.
    • You can

      At least with the new version
    • Content-relevant!!!

      Thank you for using your comment to say something - anything - about the content of the article above. I haven't tried to verify your complaint about Google; for all I know it may be completely false, but at least it's about Google's office apps, and that sets you several hundred steps above all the other commenters I waded past to find yours.
      I'm sorry ZDNet has become so infested with assholes.
  • Really?

    I can't imagine you'd be writing such a lovely article if this was Microsoft doing it for Office 365.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Of course

    • So what?!

      If it was MS attracting customers and Ed Bott was writing about it you wouldn't feel that crappy either!
      • Are you sure?

        I tend to find most bought-and-paid-for ads (which is what this really is) to be sad. It doesn't matter who does it. And, really, my point was more that this is an inconsistent way of looking at it. If we see an Ed Bott article saying this is horrible, then point me to it. I'll have something to say to him as well.

        Also, if Ed does an article praising Microsoft for something like this? Point me to that as well.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Ed Bott

        You mean the guy that objectively covers a lot of MS products? The guy who points out their strengths and their weaknesses? The guy who praised WP when it was first released as a delightful to use, promising platform (which it was) and who now condemns it as an out-of-date, mostly abandoned platform (which it is?).

        Bott covers MS, but he's not a shill. SVJN is a shill.
        x I'm tc