Google kills off free Google Apps offering

Google kills off free Google Apps offering

Summary: Individuals and micro businesses hoping to open a small Google Apps account for free will find that, from today, they will have to pay.

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TOPICS: Google, Google Apps
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Recent changes to Google Apps for Businesses has meant that Google's previously free Apps offering has been discontinued.

In an announcement on the company's Google Enterprise blog today, Google Director of Product Management for Google Apps Clay Bavor said that businesses were too quickly outgrowing the free version of Google Apps, and asking for or moving to paid premium accounts.

Instead of a free, limited-user version of Google Apps and the paid premium-based version, Google will now only offer the subscription version.

"Individuals wishing to use Google's web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device," Bavor wrote.

Google Apps was first born when Google provided Gmail for San Jose City College in 2006, and a year after, Google launched its premier edition for all businesses.

At the time, Google Apps' lead software engineer, Derek Parham, wrote that "Google Apps also won't forget its roots anytime soon. The Standard and Education Editions will continue to be offered for free, and we'll keep working on all three flavours of Google Apps with the help of feedback from all of you."

While that might remain true for the Education Edition — Google is keeping Google Apps free for educational institutions — there isn't a free version for individuals any more.

Tech savvy users who have their own domains have been able to point their mailbox entries to Google's services to manage their mail without the need to set up web hosting or a mail server. Since domain administration and configuration is not available with personal Gmail accounts, many took to Google Apps to solve this issue. However, with the abolishment of free accounts, new users and micro businesses will be unable to do the same.

Users who have already signed up on the formerly-free version of Google Apps won't be forced to subscribe, but any new users are now unable to create a new account.

Google was unable to comment further on the decision.

Google's pricing for Google Apps remains unchanged at US$50 per user, per year.

Topics: Google, Google Apps

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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57 comments
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  • Unfortunate..

    This is really unfortunate.. I'm sure the free version often got businesses that grew to naturally subscribe to the paid service.. I know a lot of small businesses that will now just stay on their old fashioned POP3/IMAP mail services because they won't be able to experience the "value" of the Google apps platform..

    I was just about to move a small business I consult to onto Google Apps.. I know for a fact now they won't be interested at all because its "just email" in their eyes and they have already paid for productivity apps so these have no initial value.. Where the value would have come in would have been at "upgrade" time when the see the price of their productivity apps vs using Google apps..
    wipeout_dude
  • Unfortunate..

    This is really unfortunate.. I'm sure the free version often got businesses that grew to naturally subscribe to the paid service.. I know a lot of small businesses that will now just stay on their old fashioned POP3/IMAP mail services because they won't be able to experience the "value" of the Google apps platform..

    I was just about to move a small business I consult to onto Google Apps.. I know for a fact now they won't be interested at all because its "just email" in their eyes and they have already paid for productivity apps so these have no initial value.. Where the value would have come in would have been at "upgrade" time when the see the price of their productivity apps vs using Google apps..
    wipeout_dude
    • I have a solution.

      If you have a domain that needs setting up on Google Apps Standard (free edition) , I have a way to get them set up with 10 users despite Google's announcement that they are no longer offering it.

      More information here: http://www.crestwebservices.com/google-apps-standard-free-version-inital-setup/
      Cameron Crest
  • Bad move by Google

    Google should give all of its services for free.

    The reason is that Google makes lots of money from all of us, collecting data about us. Google should give something back.
    Vbitrate
    • Google gives plenty back

      But some people are too blind to see it. Go do your research and come back when you aren't so ignorant.
      ukjb
      • cof cof

        So do you think what Google gives to you compare to the dozen millions they earn every year?
        Rikkrdo
        • Well first and foremost Google is a Business...

          and as a BUSINESS it MUST make money to stay a float.
          WILL YOU WORK FOR FREE?
          vl1969
    • I disagree

      It really is a form of corporate welfare that no company can afford including Google. It's still free for education and non-profits I assume. If you are in a for profit business, then you should pay for the service because as a for profit business, you're making money too.
      laequis
  • Nothing is free

    Google is finding harder and harder to establish a viable business model on its previous approach. Ad is not always the best way to finance the hosting and the development of such a tool. Business users also need privacy. That means that they would rather pay for a service and make sure that the Google disclaimer does not mention the usual note that Google owns and analyse your content.

    Since Google apps is not Open Source and entirely proprietary then it makes sense to pay to use it. The price is kept very low anyway. Nothing is free. It is hard to comprehend that for the Google generation accustomed to freeware and goodies. Conclusion can be made from the fact that Android device owner have the lowest record in term of paying apps. They expect everything to be free, like as if it was normal, like as if it was owed to them.
    gbouchard99
    • Open-source

      When open-source win the battle, you will regret.

      Google is every day more like the Old Microsoft, which is now more open like Old Google.
      Rikkrdo
    • Correct, Nothing is Free!

      Glad they will keep the Standard and Edu versions free but my biggest concern would be will the paid "Corp/Enterprise" service be ad free and data collection free? I mean, why pay a company to harvest potentially sensitive data to be used how they use the data, it be for target ads or what not.

      Ultimately, I see this being as a trail run and if successful, I can see it becoming an across the board thing with having to pay for full usage or trial it out. But in the end, this could also hurt google with the corp. Although details aren't here, this overview seems like a all or nothing type deal, of course, excluding Standard and Edu users/accounts. Time will tell.
      Free Webapps
    • The inevitable morphing...

      ...is upon us. Folks now expect free everything. Entitlement societies become communist societies.
      Techboy_z
      • Go Mozilla!

        (singing) "Arise, ye workers of the world...."

        You kids have goofy political ideas thanks to decades of disinformation done been spoon fed to you by wicked corporations. No, they are not "entitled" to profits, they bought the government so that get everything for free. Including your marginal brain capacity.
        drbenway
  • Good Move ... Long Overdue

    We have been reselling and supporting Google Apps since the beginning to small and mid-size businesses. This move is good for businesses and Google, here is why:

    For Google, it is about the brand:

    * When competitors compare themselves to Google Apps, they use the more limited features/functions of the free edition, not the full suite available under the paid and EDU versions.

    * Businesses running the free version generate more than 4 times the number of support calls for us. Most of these are looking for features in the paid version that are not in the free version. Users become frustrated because their expectations are "it's free" and "it should work".

    * Giving away an enterprise class service for free de-values the brand and continues the perception that Google Apps is about email rather than communication and collaboration.

    For businesses, it is about quality:

    * Many small businesses running the free version may not care if their inbox is indexed to enable relevant ads, but they rarely ask their customers or contacts if they mind. Privacy is an obligation and running a business on a service that is not completely private is wrong.

    * $4.17 is the monthly cost of the annualized service. If your business, your data, your communications is not worth $4.17 per month, then how much is your business really worth?

    * Google Apps is about communication and collaboration. If you think you don't need the capabilities of Google Apps and all you need is email, then: (1) you are wrong; and (2) Google Apps is not the service for you.

    Near-term and long-term, this is a great move for Google and its customers.
    allenfalcon
    • completely agree

      n/t
      ukjb
    • have you had any experience with office 365?

      it would be interesting to hear from someone whose job is to help others to deal with google apps how it compares vs office 365. I never considered it for small organizations since google apps were available for free but not that you have to pay for google and the price is about the same it will be hard to to ignore
      vpupkin
      • not happy

        I only had a few customers that went for the entire Google package 3 to 4 years ago with a 2 year commitment. They were all eager to change to the Microsoft on line offerings and AFAIK they are happy, at least they don't ask me questions about how to get out of their Microsoft contract.
        mswift1
      • Nothing beats the original

        I have and do use both Google Apps (drive and gmail), and I am a subscriber to Microsoft Office 365. Hands down - features and just works with so many true business capabilities - Office 365 is a gem, and a steal at the current pricing levels. Google Drive and Gmail, work and for my Android fans/friends that I need to share files with - for their devices, they are stuck on Google. For me and my clients - Office 365 is the way to go. Feel free to look me up for more information. Glad to help, or even setup a demo.
        jhevener2
    • Google Apps was the start point for the most of the communities, blogs, etc

      You should be aware that a lot of non profits organizations, simple users, bloggers and others has been using Google Apps as the start point of their email, communication and collaboration activities. With Google Apps they have been able to send credible mails and protect more efficiently their activities rather than use the garbage offered by shared hosting. Each user has lot of GB for use, was able to create, 50 users at first, then has been reduced to 10, but was enough to use as a free and very complete package. When you think on 10 users at 50$us user per year, then you must pay 500$us year. And you should not think only on US. Google Apps for free is the best help that a small or mid size company outside US can ask.
      edu.mm1
    • Free Google Apps is still available

      Yes, you can still signup for Free Google Apps. Here are the steps to signup:

      http://wp.me/p2XOzJ-5Q

      Get your free account today!
      Nitin Yawalkar