I use Google Apps free version primarily for the Gmail email service for all my businesses. I love that it Gmail now also integrates directly with Google Drive. The combination of free email, calendar, Google Drive, and all under my own domain for the smashing price – FREE – is too good to be true. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the case as of today.
I received a letter from the Google Apps team that makes this offering a thing of the past, and was worth sharing to readers of WPsite.net. Here it is:
Hello from Google,
Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.
Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.
Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.
You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.
Thank you for using Google Apps.
In short, the free version of Google Apps is no longer being offered.
What’s does this mean for Google Apps users?
If you are already using Google Apps free version, then you can continue using it without any impact to your service. However, if you were planning on using it in the future, it seems this option will not be available anymore. My guess is that Google is going the route of possibly making another – paid – offering for small businesses wishing to use their Google Apps service. If you check their refreshed Google Apps for Business website, you’ll notice the the service now costs $5 per user. No free plan whatsoever. Boo! For what it’s worth, they do offer a free trial, however I don’t think that will convert many users as setting up the entire service does require a bit of effort to update your DNS and create users. Though, given how much dominance they have over routing traffic on the web, I don’t think they’re necessarily concerned about attracting customers.
I’m not sure how this will play out for Google Apps or its potential users, but it’s got me thinking about what’s the next best alternative. I think Microsoft’s Outlook.com with their integration with SkyDrive may very well be the best option.
Would you pay for the Google Apps service? Or will you seek another vendor such as Microsoft for your website’s needs? Let me know in the comments.