Google Apps no longer free for new small business accounts

By on December 7, 2012, 9:30 AM

Google has announced a change to Google Apps for Business that effectively ends the ability to create free accounts for groups of 10 or fewer users, in favor their Premium $50 per user per year plan. In a blog posted late yesterday, Google Director of Product Management for Google Apps Clay Bavor said that businesses were ‘outgrowing’ the free version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes.

Existing Google Apps for Business users with free accounts will be able to carry on using the service without paying the subscription fee, but businesses small or large wanting to sign up from now with have to pay. The paid package includes around-the-clock telephone support, a 25GB inbox, and the company's 99.9% uptime guarantee. Google says the change will allow it to offer a more consistent service to business customers.

The service was born in February 2006 as Gmail For Your Domain with an invitation-only beta, and graduated to the Google Apps name a few months later with Google Talk and Google Calendar integration. As more features were added over the years, limits also got tighter in a bid to get more paying customers, going from the original 200 free user limit -- which was shortly changed to 100 -- to just 50 in 2009 and 10 in 2011.

Google Apps for Education will continue to be available as a free service for schools and universities, and apparently it is still possible to get a free single-user Google Apps account as well.

Earlier this year Google revealed more than 5 million businesses use Google Apps, although the company did not make a distinction between customers who use the free or paid versions.

User Comments: 5

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1 person liked this | Vicenarian said:

This is just plain STUPID. (Yes, S-T-U-P-I-D!). Google's lame excuse, "that businesses were ?outgrowing? the free version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes." is just a way for them to make more money. How many SMB actually utilize 25GB of email storage? Very few. Plus, most small businesses that use Google Apps have never even used Google's support services, at all! How about people who were signing up for free Apps account, just so their family could have a centralized domain name for their private email addresses? How about business that only have 3-4 employees, and don't want to pay several hundred dollars a year for basic email, calendaring, etc.?

Guest said:

If Google Apps is not going to be free there are other options such as hosted SharePoint which is like $9/month for unlimited users...vendors such as, Office 365 come to mind with 24/7 support.

1 person liked this | sqstultz said:

Good old American greed.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

If exchange server had 1/100th the spam trap capabilities I'd switch to that, as it would be cheaper in the long run.

Guest said:

It's simple.

Business owners don't like ads.

Free services make $0 in revenue for Google.

Businesses that are too cheap to pay for Google Apps or Office 365 or any other similar service are destined to fail anyway. Both services are dirt cheap.

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