You read that right Mr. tech consulting guy that’s been helping small businesses get the great email services that Google offered free to small businesses; No more. Google announced the end of the basic Google Apps offering yesterday on it’s blog. All new small business that want to use Google Apps will have to shell out $50 per user, per year. The reason:
When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. 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. With this in mind, we’ve decided to make things very straightforward.
I say you lie, Google.
We should have seen this coming; when we signed up our domain techzim.co.zw for Google Apps some 3 years ago, Google was still giving 50 mailboxes away for free. Last year, that number was cut down to 10, in the hopes that businesses would quickly run out of mailboxes and upgrade to the premium version. That probably didn’t work as Google hoped; there are probably many businesses out there (and 1 person team consultants) that stay small for a very long time.
When it was reduced to 10, we still didn’t see this coming; it’s unlike Google, a company that has made billions “giving stuff away for free”, and one that used to pride itself on not being evil. They are clearly walking a different path now. It’s the shareholder first.
According to the announcement, existing mail boxes will not be touched by the new rules. Google Apps for Education which offers the services free to schools and universities will also remain free.
For small businesses wanting business mail access on the web it’s back to horrible stuff like Squirrel Mail, Horde and Round Cube. Some local ISPs and hosting providers will undoubtedly smile at this news; Free Google Apps had taken away a sizeable amount of mailbox business away, and this may be an opportunity to resurrect it.
It is important to note that the basic Google Apps was actually never technically free; It was advert supported meaning you would sell looking at adverts in exchange for using the mailbox.
If I were Microsoft, today I’d announce 50 free business mailboxes on outlook.com.