Sprint and Google are today announcing a new partnership which allows Sprint to sell Google's Apps for Business services to its enterprise customers starting next month. Google Apps, which is the search giant's business-focused offering of its ubiquitous consumer services, includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, and a number of other Google services. Sprint will essentially be a reseller of Google's services, and it will offer expanded support and other services that Google itself doesn't provide.
Sprint is expanding on the support services that Google already provides by offering customers a single line of contact for Google Apps and wireless devices and services and support for end users. Google offers a comprehensive support system for Apps customers, including phone support available 24/7 to account administrators, but Sprint thinks its options will provide added value for its customers that take advantage of multiple Sprint services. Sprint will also offer expanded single sign-on services and training programs, as well as offer the ability to pre-load Android or iOS devices with Google's apps and services before delivering them to customers.
Businesses are not required to have Sprint wireless service to purchase Google's Apps suite
Sprint is not requiring that businesses have wireless service or device contracts with it to purchase the Google Apps suite, though it obviously hopes that Google Apps customers will eventually become customers of the carrier's other services. Mike Fitz, Sprint vice president in charge of business solutions, in an interview with The Verge, says that the company expects customers to "see significant value in have Google Apps and Sprint, because of the integrated support and so forth that we provide."
For Google, this deal with Sprint opens up its Google Apps services to many more businesses that might not have considered it before. Google already has a large number of partners in its Google Apps Reseller program, though Sprint is the first major US wireless carrier to come on board. Sprint itself is in the process of switching over its own internal services from Microsoft's business solutions to Google's Apps suite.
This isn't the first unique partnership between Sprint and Google. Back in 2011, the two companies banded together to integrate Google Voice with Sprint's wireless offerings and network, providing a more seamless experience for Google Voice users that with other carriers. Fitz says that this new partnership has been in the works for some time, but the negotiations were further bolstered when Softbank took over ownership of Sprint. Softbank is Google's largest partner for Google Apps and today's agreement further solidified the two companies' partnerships.
Sprint wants businesses to outsource their technology needs to it
Sprint hopes that businesses will see this program as a way to outsource their current IT and support systems to Sprint, letting their technology managers and executives focus on other things. The company isn't saying how many businesses it hopes to sign up to Google Apps over the course of the next year, but Fitz says the deal with Google doesn't have a defined term or end date. Sprint will also continue to offer other business solutions from the likes of Microsoft and Cisco.
Sprint, which has struggled in recent years in the consumer space, is positioning itself to better provide solutions for businesses that don't rely solely on wireless devices and service. Whether or not that's enough to buoy the company until something larger, such as a merger with rival T-Mobile, happens remains to be seen.
Update July 23rd, 1:45PM ET: An original version of this article stated that Google did not provide its own support system for Google Apps customers. The company does have a support program in place, including a dedicated phone line support team, and the article has been corrected to acknowledge it.