Google shrinks further the Mini search device

Google has introduced its lowest-priced Google Mini search device to date, in an attempt to capture the most price-sensitive segment of the small-business market.

The new Google Mini indexes up to 50,000 documents on a company's public Web site or intranet and costs US$1,995, Google said in a statement Thursday.

Google sells three other Mini models, which cost, respectively, US$2,995 with a 100,000-document capacity; US$5,995 with a 200,000-document capacity; and US$8,995 with a 300,000-document capacity.

Except for the 300,000-document Mini, the others can have their capacities increased with a software code Google provides owners once they have paid for it. For example, the owner of a 100,000-document Mini can increase the device's capacity to 200,000 documents by paying an additional US$3,000.

The new Mini model isn't of interest right now to Tim Stanley, who recently increased his Mini's capacity to 200,000 documents. However, it will appeal to many law firms, said Stanley, chief executive officer of Justia, a Palo Alto, California, company that builds Web sites and blogs for law firms.

Law firms typically have small IT staffs and a big need to search effectively across their Web sites and intranets, Stanley said. The Google Mini is extremely easy to set up and operate, and law firms that may have considered the 100,000-document capacity as overkill may be more inclined to purchase the new model, he said.

Justia currently uses its Google Mini to provide full-text searching of legal documents it has placed online, such as decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court at http://www.justia.us. The company bought its Google Mini in September 2005 and it took less than an hour to get it up and running, Stanley said. The quality of the search results it provides is outstanding, he said.

The Google Mini can be purchased at Google's online store (http://www.googlestore.com/appliance/product.asp?catid=1.)

Google also sells a more expensive and powerful search device called Search Appliance, which starts at US$30,000 and can index up to 15 million documents. The Google Mini can only index Web site documents, while the Search Appliance can index a broader variety of documents.

Both the Mini and the Search Appliance are hardware boxes loaded with search engine software, and both are designed to be easily set up and deployed.

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