Google adds to its Mini lineup

Google Thursday began shipping a scaled down version of its Google Mini search appliance that is aimed at small businesses.

The newest Mini has a document capacity of 50,000, which is half of what the original Mini will handle. Google also has set the price at US$1,995, a full US$1,000 lower than the original Mini's price tag of US$2,995.

The move comes nearly two months after Google introduced two new models of Google Mini that increased capacity. The two versions introduced in January can handle up to 200,000 documents at a price of US$5,995, and 300,000 documents for US$8,995, respectively.

Google is looking to place its search appliance within the walls of any organization, regardless of size, that is seeking better search on its internal network or its external Web site.

But the company is not stopping there because it thinks organizations will use Google's set of APIs to build search-based applications with Google Mini or the full-scale Search Appliance on the back-end. The search appliance can index 500,000 and is priced at US$30,000.

"What we have with Mini and the Search Appliance is a very simple out of the box product to quickly provide search, but you also can use it as a component of other applications," says Rajen Sheth, product manager for Google Mini. "We have XML interfaces in terms of both retrieving search results on the Mini and for feeding documents into the Search Appliance."

Sheth says Google's strategy is to have something simple but very extensible. "Now that we have the Google Professional Network we've seen a number of companies build a variety of applications where search is the core competency of the application."

Both the Mini and the Search Appliance are hardware appliances running Google's search engine software.

Beyond having more capacity, the Search Appliance is different from the Mini in that it can index documents that aren't accessible via HTTP and it has more fine-tuning customization features.

The announcement of the new Mini comes the day Google is to host its annual meeting for financial analysts. The company's stock, which was at $471 in January, took a downturn after a weak earnings report. The stock took another 7 percent tumble late last month after Google CFO George Reyes warned that as Google expands it's financial growth will slow. The stock closed at US$364.80 on March 1.

As Google, which historically has been coy with analysts, makes its pitch to them the scaled-down Mini is one "new" product it can point to as a measure of its moves on the corporate market.

Last week, Google also announced that its blogging and search tools are being included on Sony Ericsson's new premium cell phones. Google also recently announced plans to expand its payment system via a program it calls Google Accounts, and recently unveiled Google Page Creator for designing Web sites.

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