Google has announced it will no longer offer its popular web apps for free to small businesses.
Google Apps includes widely-used services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and Calendar. Up until now, businesses with under ten employees qualified for a free plan. The services are currently used by more than five million companies – but the good news is that for those currently on free plans there will be no additional charge.
Businesses signing up to new Google Apps accounts will be charged £33 ($50) a year, per user for the premium version of the software previously reserved for larger organisations. In a blog post, Clay Bavor, Director of Product Management for Google Apps said “Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes”. These features will be included in the new premium version.
It’s widely speculated that Google is improving and monetising its Apps offering to compete with Microsoft’s Office suite, which dominates the workplace software space for small businesses with a 90% overall market share.
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