Google scraps free Apps, changes focus to subscriptions

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Google Apps

If your business uses Google Apps, listen up. The internet giant will no longer be offering a free version of the service as it looks to switch focus to subscriptions.

In an official blog post, Google Apps director of product management Clay Bavor says that the decision because having separate free and paid-for version wasn’t really working for anyone.

“Google Apps started with the simple idea that Gmail could help businesses and schools work better together without the hassles of managing software and servers.” he says. After a while it expanded to include a premium version but kept the free version:

Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version but, says Bavor, “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”.

Google’s proposed solution, if you’re not big enough for the full Google Apps suite, is to sign up to Gmail, Google Drive and its other consumer-based storage products.

Companies, it says, will have to sign up for Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a claimed 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is US$50 per user per year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google Apps generated around US$1-billion in revenue for Google over the past year.

The paper cites Apple’s way of doing business as part of the reason Google decided to scrap the free version of Apps. The Cupertino-based giant “doesn’t give anything away for free, and that’s had some influence on how Google thinks about enterprise,” it quotes former Google Apps head Dave Girouard as saying.

Google claims that around five-million businesses around the globe use Google Apps, although the majority use the free version. All told around 40-million people are thought to use the service worldwide.

Google claims that the change will have no impact on its existing customers, including those using the free version. And that, as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.

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