Google Apps: More Than Meets the Eye?

It looks like Google Apps for Your Domain soon will come outta beta with a paid version for enterprises. The one thing I wanted to explore in the story I just wrote, but didn't manage to do, is what else Google has in mind with Apps. Because I just doubt that they're aiming directly at Microsoft with Apps, which for now includes only e-mail, calendar, chat, and a Web page-building service.

A lot of folks wonder if Google Apps is simply a way for the search giant to divine more information on users, so it can better target ads--which is, of course, Google's main business. Google insists that's not the point: Apps is Apps and that's that.

Still, while I don't see Google trolling potentially sensitive data to throw ads in people's faces while they e-mail, I wonder if there's useful data (properly anonymized, one would hope) that Google could divine. VC Peter Rip thinks Google is essentially an artificial-intelligence machine that amasses data, mines it for meaning, then figures out a way to make money off it. I'm just not sure exactly how they'd do that through Google Apps.

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