Google recently announced that it will be ending availability of a free version of Google Apps online application suite for small businesses, stating that it wants to “provide a stronger and more uniform experience to users.”
Google later announced in a blog post that a small business, even one with ten or fewer employees, will have to pay to use its online app platform. Until this announcement, small business users had be able to do this for free, though all businesses using will now have to pay $50 per user, per year for the service.
On the bright side, Google Apps will still remain free for individual users, as well as for existing business customers that currently use the free version. Google’s Apps for Business, which is the paid offering from the company, provides email, calendar and an online office suite as an all-in-one service, allowing them to be used on private domain names while adding features like 24-hour phone support. In addition to that, it offers features like an archiving service as well as additional storage for an extra cost.
Google didn’t release user numbers for the service, though did state last year that it had over 40 million users, even though the majority of those are believed to be non-paying. Google is in stiff competition with Microsoft’s Office 365 online service, which also offers email and online versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel for $6 per user, per month.
Clay Bavor, Director of Product Management for Google Apps, stated that the service is used by “millions of businesses” and also said that eliminating the free version will help remove confusion about Google’s different offerings and provide a better experience for its business customers who”quickly outgrow the basic version”.
Source: PC World – Google will start charging small businesses for Google Apps