Google plans “Gemini Business” AI for Workspace users


The Google Gemini logo.
Enlarge / The Google Gemini logo.

Google

One of Google’s most lucrative businesses consists of packaging its free consumer apps with a few custom features and extra security and then selling them to companies. That’s usually called “Google Workspace,” and today it offers email, calendar, docs, storage, and video chat. Soon, it sounds like Google is gearing up to offer an AI chatbot for businesses. Google’s latest chatbot is called “Gemini” (it used to be “Bard”), and the latest early patch notes spotted by Dylan Roussei of 9to5Google and TestingCatalog.eth show descriptions for new “Gemini Business” and “Gemini Enterprise” products.

The patch notes say that Workspace customers will get “enterprise-grade data protections” and Gemini settings in the Google Workspace Admin console and that Workspace users can “use Gemini confidently at work” while “trusting that your conversations aren’t used to train Gemini models.”

These “early patch notes” for Bard/Gemini have been a thing for a while now. Apparently, some people have ways of making the site spit out early patch notes, and in this case, they were independently confirmed by two different people. I’m not sure the date (scheduled for February 21) is trustworthy, though.

Normally, you would expect a Google app to be included in the “Business Standard” version of Workspace, which is $12 per user per month, but it sounds like Gemini won’t be included. Google describes the products as “new Gemini Business and Gemini Enterprise plans” [emphasis ours] and implores existing paying Google Workspace users to “upgrade today to Gemini Business or Gemini Enterprise.” Roussei says the “upgrade today” link goes to the Duet AI Workspace page, Google’s first attempt at “AI for business,” which hasn’t been updated with any new plans just yet.

It’s unclear how much of the Duet AI business plan is surviving the Gemini rollout. Duet was announced in August 2023 as a few “help me write” buttons in Gmail, Docs, and other Workspace apps, which would all open chatbots that can control the various apps. Duet AI was supposed to have an “initial offering” price of an additional $30 per user per month, but it has been six months now, and Duet AI still isn’t generally available to businesses. The “try Duet AI” link goes to a “request a trial” contact form. Six months is an eternity in Google’s rapidly evolving AI plans; it’s a good bet Duet is replaced by all this Gemini stuff. Will it still be an extra $30, or did everyone scoff at that price?

If this $30-extra-for-AI plan ever ships, that would mean a typical AI-infused Workspace account would be a total of $45 per user per month. That sounds like a lot, but generative AI products currently take a huge amount of processing, which means they cost a lot. Right now, everyone is in land-grab mode, trying to get as many users as possible, but generally, the big players are all losing money. Nvidia’s market-leading AI cards can cost around $10,000 to $40,000 for a single card, and that’s not even counting the ongoing electricity costs.





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