Google Discontinues Free Business Apps, Promising “Improved Quality”

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Google Discontinues Free Business Apps, Promising “Improved Quality”

No more free apps from Google! The company has just announced some significant changes to Google Apps for Business that means users can no longer sign up to the service for free.

In a blog posted late yesterday, Clay Bavor said that businesses were ‘outgrowing’ the free version of Google Apps, and requesting to move over to the premium version. As a result, Bavor said that Google had made the decision to focus on improving the quality of the user experience for paying customers, with fuller support. Those that have already signed up for the free version of Google Apps for Business will not be forced to upgrade, however.

Bavor explains:

“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. ”

Those who don’t want to upgrade (mainly consumers) are now being encouraged to sign up for Gmail and its Google Drive service, rather than Google Apps. Anyone who does want to use its expanded suite of services will be compelled to sign up for the Google Apps premium version, which costs $50 per user, per year.

Consumers are instead being encouraged to make use of Google Drive

By ending the free version, Google says it will be able to better focus on providing business grade services, such as 24/7 support, a 99.9% uptime guarantee and a 25GB inbox.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the vast majority of Google Apps users, estimated at 40 million worldwide, currently use the free version. Even so, Google has managed to pull in around $1 billion over the last year alone from its premium users.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by this move, given the way Google has expanded its consumer-focused offerings in recent years with the introduction of Google Drive. We can probably expect further changes to Gmail itself in the next few months, following Google’s decision to acquire email client Sparrow earlier this year.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley is an independent freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast from the UK. A journalism graduate of Nottingham University, Mike enjoys travelling... Read Full Bio
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  • areels

    Wrong move.

  • Jim

    I guess a lot of small businesses will be very surprised and upset. $50/user/year is not cheap at all, esp. since Google Apps have very limited applications, and generally do not work as good as desktop software, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe PhotoShop. SMBs really shall look for other options. offers a one-stop Cloud IT service that can replace local file servers, FTP servers, email servers, static web servers. It bundles tons of business features for the same low prices. Our user license is priced at only $6/user/year.

  • rico

    Why is it that companies which make unfavorable moves for their customers always blame customers for such moves. By reading this article you get the impression, that the consumers were not happy and that is why Google is now going to charge consumers and give them better support (like they were unhappy because of lack of support). Why don’t they just put it as it is, plain and simple – “We are unhappy with income we get from this service and it will no longer be free”. It’s simple as that – don’t lie that consumers are unhappy. They are very happy with free stuff, it’s Google that is becoming more and more unhappy with people using free services.

    • Mike Wheatley

      Couldn’t agree more Rico, it’s pretty obvious for anyone to see that they just want more money out of it. I would actually have a lot more respect for Google if they explained the move the way you did!

  • Rick Falls

    Google is smart to do this. We should follow by example and try all sorts of things, and then leave what doesn’t work well for us behind as we choose working things and delve deeper into them.

    Were not entitled to have free tools from anyone, and instead of blaming google for making the kind of decisions that will enable them to continue to be innovative, we should be grateful for the many things they have provided for us, as they will likely continue to.

    If an application is useful and you’re finding it difficult to buy into it at 50 dollars a year so you can use it as a support and growth tool, trust me google is not your biggest problem, you and your lack of commitment to your business is !

  • Patrick Allmond

    This is a great move, and I am amazed that people are whining about it. Why do people think they are entitled to things for free? Google is a business and they are here to make money. If they can afford to give away some things for free then that is great. But being is business means you have expenses. The goes for google, and it goes for the businesses that Google Apps supports. Man up and pay the $50/user. That is a bargain when it comes to having a complete office and email suite. If you’ve ever tried to deploy exchange and MS office in a corporation you will know what I’m talking about.

  • Nimitz

    How about those business that just recently started online which don’t have any funds yet to get their own personalize email address. Atleast they should provide still the FREE version but with limited GB… I myself doesn’t consume much of the GB that they are providing. I only use 0.09% and thats not even close to 1%…

    Really wrong moved.

  • Jason Halberstadt

    They should have done a tiered system that takes into account the realities of economies and software piracy in different countries. We have probably close to 100 clients that are using the free version, none the paid version, and I doubt if we’ll have many new paid clients because of the cost 🙁 Where I live in Ecuador $50 x 10 accounts = $500, is more than a full month’s salary for the average citizen. The cost of Open Office is free. MS office is “free” too, because people generally use pirated copies. They will lose market share in the majority of the world, which is a shame because I use it and promote(d) it widely, but now it will be a tough sell.

  • Scott

    As a long-time user of the free version of Google Apps I’d be very happy to switch to GMail and Google Drive if I could use them with my domain name instead of Google’s. The only reason I signed up for Apps was to be able to keep my email address while switching to GMail.

  • Bob

    I wonder how long before they start charging for Google Plus. Oh wait, they won’t, because it’s a bad idea.