This might make you dislike Google very much: No more free Google Apps

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Google AppsYou 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.

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  • pange

    They Screwed Us. Right Before They Screwed Us Again. #poohead http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/06/they-screwed-us-right-before-they-screwed-us-again-poohead/

  • http://www.sondeza.com/ Dogstar

    “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.” What is free anyway? Google still gives you better returns on using their services. Going M$ 365 is more expensive than using GA as per this infor here

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/compare-plans.aspx

    And what is $50 per user per year anyway? If you are a serious business person you will pay for such services and this makes you more committed to using the technology more efficiently.

  • tinm@n

    I (and am sure many others)have been using it since they were on Beta and have enjoyed the service, before the cloud hype. With all due respect, that is business. I have provided free advice to anyone I know on how to set it up and encouraged some to make money out of it. But IMHO surely, if you make money out of it, $50 isnt too much, for the consultant. On the other hand, I empathise with the small business that is struggling and cannot afford infrastructure, staff and capital to host their own email…securely and efficiently. For them, that is a true blow.

    It is painful in that we are being weaned, but bottom line is that these guys are in it to make money. I have always known that it was only a matter of time before they charged. Coz I have used it for my lil semi-virtual company for a long time now without need for more than 10 active emails. I imagined many went by very well with that limit.

    I dont think its evil

  • brian gondo

    Bait ‘n switch

  • wengai

    Surely it did not sound google-like. we know google as biG santa and we have all the free stuff on the web. my guess is motorola (or the anti-trust regulators) has something to do with it. ever since the acquisition google started streamlining it ops which really is a good business move to cut cost and increase shareholder value. the only problem is shareholders are shortsighted and want $$ all the time. hope google does not move to other free products we currently enjoying.

  • http://twitter.com/ihatehandles Sam Takunda

    LOL or maybe they are starting to feel the pinch of “free” in their data centers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Washington-Matemai-Mkombodzi/747053130 Washington Matemai Mkombodzi

    thats so not google. i guess their motto do no evil has changed. its gettin more evil by the day. Eish how i hate squirrel, cant stand that interface…

  • Prosper Chikomo

    I think Google finally did some data mining of their search engine results and third-party Adwords advertisements selling “Gmail powered email addresses for you domain name for US$50 per year” and realized there was money here.

  • KingCoolus

    People are so ungrateful. These guys spend a lot of time and money developing a product and you are criticizing them for wanting to make money from it? Its theirs to do with and price as they please.

    In my opinion… if you are not comfortable with their new service structure just change service providers.

  • Aurther

    Feedburner is probably next…will be killed or charged. Shareholder demands.

  • tinma@n

    Kinda bait n switch, if you are talking about “consultants” making money out of setting up the service for clients.

    But(technically) for existing users, since they said already-signed-up-users retain their free accounts with the original mailbox limits imposed on them when they signed up. E.g, I have an account I signed up pre-10 user maximum. I can still create more mailboxes up to 50. I have a more recent one that has the 10-user maximum in effect.

    I guess I’m debugging yr comment. habit-forming when ur a geek/coder :D

  • Mafirakureva

    Excuse my ignorance, which services are affected? The only services that i will cry about are Gmail, Maps, Play and Search….the rest i don’t care.

  • Joe Black

    People cry over free things all the time. You make money off Google’s free services, and then cry when Google starts charging for them?

    Simple: if this service is so valuable to you, you should be willing to pay for it. Otherwise, there’s nothing free except the sunshine.

  • http://www.techzim.co.zw L.S.M. Kabweza

    You speak of it as if it was free. it was never free. It was ad supported. Now instead of us selling the act of looking at adverts, and Google mining our data to target us better, they want us to pay upfront. And even if they’d claim to never touch it, who says they still won’t mine the data anyway?

  • tinm@n

    Google “Google Apps for business”

    Article title should actually be corrected. Google Apps and Google Apps for Business are two different services around the same platform

  • http://profiles.google.com/dsairai David Sairai

    This is setting a dangerous precedence. Though it is helping people, it means that if you are not an Econet subscriber but a CBZ customer you lose. And if you are a CBZ customer but not an Econet subscriber, again you lose. So now one is forced to either change banks or switch cell networks to enjoy this service. I could be wrong but does this not “smell” fishy?

  • Muse

    Alarmist

  • http://www.techzim.co.zw L.S.M. Kabweza

    http://www.google.com/apps/index1.html
    It’s divided between between for Business and for Education. So in a way Gmail, Maps, Play and Search do not fall under Google “Apps”, even though they are Google “apps”

  • tinm@n

    I stand corrected. And quite right, Gmail et al are not Google Apps.

  • Prosper Chikomo

    I think when you get comments on Techzim of people wailing that a free service now charges it shows what could happen if you start a free online service of some sort. Plenty of people will rush to join, but just start charging and see. lol

  • Tapiwa ✔

    It was free, as you yourself stated in the article. Google are under no obligations to continue providing a free service. If you were to decide to put techzim behind a paywall, do you think we should whinge about it? You also have ads, but that doesn’t mean you’re beholden to us: your property, your rules.

    If you have a free account, it remains free so there’s nothing to complain about, unless you were planning to add more domains. If you are yet to add a domain, then you have to decide if GAFYD is worth $50 per user. I don’t know if anyone has tried managing a mail server- but keeping yourself from blacklists & keeping spam out is more trouble than it’s worth.

    Honestly speaking, there’s no way GAFYD is worth $0 to you, so, pony up.

  • Tapiwa ✔

    Companies restructure their products/pricing all the time. There is no bait and switch here as all existing users are grandfathered under the terms they signed up on (50 users or 10 users free).

    Microsoft also offers mail hosting on your domain, in my view, it’s inferior to GMail, but if you guys want to cut your nose to spite your face, sign up at https://domains.live.com/

  • Blaz James

    Good thing Microsoft Web apps are still free.