Google just announced a significant decision that’s going to affect millions of small businesses and developers who were using the free offerings of Google Apps suite of service for their clients. In a blog post the company announced that it will no longer accept any new sign ups for their free version of Google Apps.
Starting from now, all users who wish to use Google Apps for their business or even for their personal website/blogs will have to sign-up under the premium service which stands at $50 per user per year. The pricing appears to be rather high considering that previously Google Apps for Free allowed businesses up to 50 users to use their products for absolutely no cost.
“When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well”, wrote Google in the post. “Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn't quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.”
The paid package includes round the clock customer support, a 25GB inbox and its 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. While these are good perks to have, most customers who want to use the free services for personal email hosting would be hardly impressed.
There is no need to panic yet, as the change will have no effect on existing customers, including those using the free version. And as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.