Verizon unveiled this week a curious package aimed at small and midsize businesses, combining its own Internet, voice, and/or TV services with Google Apps. At first blush, the deal might look appealing, particularly with the repeated use of the word "free" in the advertising. But if you crunch the numbers and carefully consider just what this bundle contains -- that is, Google Voice to replace a standard voice service -- the bundle might not seem quite so joyful.
Here's what Verizon is offering: If your organization subscribes to one of the company's Internet plans, along with either a voice plan or a TV plan, you get Google Apps at a modest discount. Presumably, Verizon wants purchasers of this bundle to ignore the fact that broadband service plus Google Apps can render phone service unnecessary because Google Apps includes Google Voice, through which users can make free VoIP calls.
Let's get to the numbers: Verizon's aforementioned bundle of Internet, voice services, and Google Apps starts at $64.99 per month (at least in the 95608 ZIP code I tested). With it, you get three free accounts for Google Apps. Additional Google Apps user accounts cost about $3.99 per month per user. At that price, the voice service includes a single phone line with unlimited nationwide calling. (This bundle also includes a free domain name for a year and a six-month trial usage of Verizon's website services, but that's not worth factoring in.) If your organization has 25 users, you're paying roughly $158 per month, or $1,893 per year.
On the other hand, your organization could subscribe to Verizon's high-speed Internet, which starts at $24.99 per month. You could then go directly to Google for Google Apps, which costs around $50 per year per user ($2 more annually per user that Verizon's Google Apps package). The important point is Google Apps includes Google Voice, a free VoIP alternative to regular phone service. Using that approach, your 25-person organization would pay around $129 per month or $1,548 per year, saving you about $345.
The above scenarios don't include the extras you might be swayed to purchase with your voice package, such as call forwarding or voicemail. Those features are included in Google Voice.
As noted, an organization could opt for TV service instead of voice service to take advantage of the bundle, but it's tough to imagine many scenarios where a business would want to shell out extra cash to cable, particularly when so much television content is available via the Internet.
Saying Verizon's bundle is an intentional dupe of its small-business customers probably isn't fair, and there might be scenarios when paying for the bundle is worthwhile -- say, for midsize organizations with a couple hundred users. But it's a safe bet that Verizon would prefer its customers remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that shelling out for both voice service and Google Voice can be a redundant waste of cash.
Follow Ted Samson on Twitter at tsamson_iw.
This story, "Verizon's service bundle with Google Apps is voice overkill," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.