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Jan 23, 2009

CLIP Google Puts The Squeeze On Free Apps

Ed: Not impressed. We have 6 clients using Google Apps for domain name only, not mail, docs, calendar, and web hosting. How many do you have?

Google says the vast majority of the 1 million businesses that use Google Apps opt for the free advertising supported version. To make the free option less attractive they’ve been quietly lowering the number of user accounts that can be associated with a free account. Now as businesses grow, they’ll be forced to move to the paid version much more quickly than before.

Google Apps is a suite of online applications like gmail, Google calendar, Google Docs, etc. that are packaged and tailored for business use. It’s growing fast - in a recent post where Google announced the opening of a reseller program, the company said that more than 1 million businesses and 10 million users use Google Apps today, and 3,000 new businesses sign up daily. The largest business user, Genentech, has 20,000 employees on Google Apps.

When Google Apps first launched in August 2006 it was free and described as “a service available at no cost to organizations of all shapes and sizes.”

Free for everyone lasted until February 2007, when Google announced a premier edition of the service with more storage and an uptime guarantee. The cost was (and is) $50 per user per year.

When Google Apps first launched up to 200 user accounts could be created for each business under the free version. But that limit was quietly reduced to just 100 user accounts. And then when the reseller program was announced earlier this month, the limit was cut in half again, to just 50 accounts.

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