Google entices Indian SMBs to cloud with pricing carrot

Google India is reducing the prices for Google Apps to attract smaller businesses in what appears to be a response to Microsoft's marketing blitzkrieg for its Office 365 product.
Written by Abhishek Baxi, Contributor on

Google India has announced new affordable pricing for Google Apps for Business, making it easier for the country's small businesses to move to the cloud.

Google Apps for Business
Google Apps' attractive pricing scheme will aid it in its competition with Microsoft's Office 365 in India.

According to Google India, the new pricing is a 45 percent reduction on the previous price. New and existing customers will now pay INR 150 (US$2.70) per user per month if they are on the flexible plan, and INR 1,500 (US$27) per user per year for the annual subscription.

Google Apps offers easy solutions for Web mail, calendars, cloud storage, and video meetings through Google's products--Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, and Hangouts. These tools work together securely and seamlessly with a 99.9 percent availability guarantee. Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Slides now also work offline, albeit with limited browser support.

The new pricing scheme is obviously a response to the recent launch of Office 365, Microsoft's office productivity suite that integrates seamlessly with the cloud. Microsoft has seen growing adoption of Office 365 in India and has been pushing hard with its messaging in the region via outdoor and print advertising, radio spots, and online campaigns.

Office 365 plans start from INR 220 (U$4) per user per month but billed annually, which is a little more than Google Apps' new price point. However, the Office 365 plan that is roughly equivalent to Google Apps' flexible plan is US$6 per user per month, which is more than double the price of the latter.

According to Ricky Kapur, director of enterprise sales for Asia at Google: "India is home to around 47 million small businesses, yet only 1 percent of these businesses are online. We hope that by making Google Apps more affordable, more small businesses in India will be able to move to the cloud and access a business-ready package of communication and collaboration tools."

Kapur, in a video conference from Singapore, explained how other initiatives from Google like India Get Your Business Online and an affordable Google Apps for Business would help small and midsize businesses (SMBs) get online and grow the entire ecosystem.

Epitome Travel Solutions, a travel services provider based in New Delhi, is one company that has committed to Google's cloud offering. It wanted a cloud solution that was reliable and assist employees in being mobile, stay connected, and updated.

Vishwajeet Singh, chief intelligence officer at Epitome Travel Solutions, said: "The best part of switching to Google Apps is that when I'm travelling, I can easily communicate with my colleagues by going online. That is not only saving on the costs of having to call overseas but also provides great ease when you know that you're able to connect with people when you're out of the office."

The company claims that with Google Apps for Business, information can now be accessed in real time as compared to having to wait for updates via e-mails. This has led to a 20 percent improvement in work efficiency and a 25 percent to 35 percent increase in revenue for the company.

Personally, I've been an Office 365 customer for a few months now. While the pricing advantage and the popularity of Google Apps amongst consumers might give it a positive mindshare, Office 365 offers key differentiators such as enterprise products like SharePoint and Lync and the familiarity of using its Office suite.

So, which would you pick: Google Apps for Business or Office 365?

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