PCWorld is reporting that Google, along with a local integrator, will be rolling out it's Gmail application (and, presumably, Google Apps) for all of the student email accounts in the public schools and colleges of New South Wales.
This translates to roughly a million students, but a relatively minor amount of revenue for Google (just over $9 million US). As one analyst points out in the article, though,
"Google's efforts to get students and academic institutions to use the company's cloud-based services like Gmail is part of the GOOG's strategy to penetrate the enterprise...But it is a longer-term strategy because Google is willing to get students comfy with its products and services, let them get their jobs, and then pull Google along with them. ... The real payoff, to my way of thinking, will be the students who graduate with Google as part of their thought processes."
I don't know too many folks who've used Gmail and then happily left it behind for another service. As Google Apps matures, as well, we should increasingly see it provide all we need for most student productivity applications and collaboration.
However, one astute commenter on PCWorld wrote:
I'd be surprised if this actually went ahead. I'd love to see Gmail and Google in use by Aussie students as much as the next guy, but aren't Google's servers hosted in the US? If so, they fall under the patriot act, right? I don't want some other country's government having unfettered access to Australian kid's e-mail.
Probably a good point, since even overseas data centers for US companies are technically subject to the Patriot Act. Gotta love the Patriot Act - I sure feel safer.