Google Apps for Business No Longer Free – This Cruel, Mean Outrage “Puts a Wrench” in Small Businesses

This post comes from the heart.

I recently checked my email which is currently hosted on the now-former Google Apps for Business Free account.  I received an email from a Google address with a message that I initially thought to be a prank. It read:

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.

Clay Bavor
Director, 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.” Yeah, right. Nice way to put the wrench in new small businesses with practically no prior notice!

In the past, I have recommended a sizeable amount of clients from utilizing emails that would tie you into domain companies like GoDaddy and even in some cases from private, 10-year old Exchange servers. The logic was simple: Google has some of the most powerful servers in the world and, while they sort of “own” your data, they are merely using it to improve Google search results, which is only a good thing. And, there are so many Google accounts that the chances of them zeroing into your account is like a needle in a haystack.

Also, the logic was that for Google, the very data they gather is money. This data would help them leverage with other revenue-generating services like Adwords. The paid accounts would be a bonus for Google’s large wad of pockets.

Until yesterday one could sign up for up to 10 free accounts, and as of 2007 one could sign up for 50 user accounts. It was an amazing way for Google to provide a service in exchange for data.

Apparently, they no longer seem to need the little guy. They clearly have all the data they need.

According to Techcrunch,

Mountain View says it’s making the change to simplify its offering to ensure a better fit for both groups of users, individuals and business, noting in its blog;

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.

Google is still offering a free product for schools and universities: Google Apps for Education. It will also be continuing to offer Google Apps for Government for $50 per user, per year.

Let’s see here: “…but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version.” Bull! Most businesses stay small business for at least 3-5 years, assuming they even survive that long. And many that last longer stay small businesses. I guess the term “quickly” is all relative in terms of time.

Think of it this way. Let’s say one wanted to create a 10-user account now and use up all 10 users. Before, it was great – you could get it for free. Now, for 10 accounts, at $5/user/month, that translates into $50/10 users/month or $500/10 users/year! A start-up now paying Google $500 a year for something that was free 24 hours ago is outrageous! What a mean, cruel joke on the little guy!

But this is not a joke. This is reality, sweetie.

Other Email Options

It will now take new start-ups new, creative ways for cheap email. Some existing solutions are:

1. Fusemail

URL: https://www.fusemail.com/solutions/small-business/

Pros:

  • The low cost is better than Google’s.
  • Mailboxes are 10 GB in size
  • Phone support exists.
  • You can actually consolidate your mailboxes.
  • Excelent spam/virus protection.
  • IMAP and SMTP services
  • A competitive Calendar service exists.

Cons: N/A

Cost: $2/user/month

2. Yahoo Business Email

URL: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/email/compare-plans

Pros: It comes out to $2/user/month akin to Fusemail.

Marissa Meyer’s appointment to Yahoo a few months ago still may hint at new life for Yahoo.

Cons: POP email only, no IMAP

Cost: $10/10 users/month + $25 setup fee

3. Hotmail/Windows Live Business Emails

URL: http://domains.live.com/

Pros: I haven’t tried it yet, but from what I see it’s free.

Microsoft is still Microsoft, love or hate it. From a business perspective they’re still amazing.

Cons: N/A

Instructions can be found on ceveni.com, which also says it best that “google is becoming too weird now days it has proceeding from “User Centric” to  “Business Centric” forcing small business and organizations to buy their email service which was once free.” I love it when someone speaks his mind!

Cost: Free*

The above having been said, I see this as an amazing opportunity for a young start-up to come out with free IMAP-based email that will make Google’s current business email data archaic. Perhaps then will they show some remorse and retrieve even part of the “free” plan back. Not that they care “at this time,” though.

Final Thoughts

I know that many are very angry about Google’s drastic move, complaining about the lack of notice (Google’s own blog only mentioned this 2 days ago). Some doom-and-gloom people said that this was only a matter of time before this happened. I for one am not happy and am open to other free or low-cost email suggestions moving forward.

Comments and suggestions below are more than welcome.

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