Google Drops Free Apps Offering, Paying Customers can Downgrade to Free till January 9th
On December 6th, 2012 Google stopped to accept new registrations for free Google Apps domains, that could be used for up to 10 users.
Existing free Google Apps users can continue to use the service without any change. Google Apps for Business domains can downgrade to the free version till January 9th if they have no more than 10 users and fit into the reduced features set.
The policy change was explained after the fact by Clay Bavor, Director of Product Management, Google Apps:
- Individuals should sign up with a regular Google account which supports all Google services and provides a @gmail.com email address and currently 10GB of email storage.
- Businesses who want to use their own domain with Google services must sign up for Google Apps for Business which offers 25GB email storage, an 99.9% uptime guarantee and 24/7 phone and email support. Pricing remains at $50 per user and year.
- Google Apps for Education and Google Apps for Non-Profit (US only) remain available for free to eligible organizations.
Clay cites customer dissatisfaction with the development speed of new features or the reduced feature set of the free edition. The $1 Billion revenue that Google supposedly earned with 5 million Google Apps domains (according to the Wall Street Journal) suggest a stronger focus on paying business customers, as Nikesh Arora, Google’s Chief Business Officer, already hinted in July 2012:
"Let's acknowledge where we are in the enterprise business," said Arora during Google's earnings call late last week. "I think it's become clear for us that we have a serious small but growing business which is going to be a future growth engine for Google."
Google announced in this years Winter Cleaning that after January 30th, 2013 only paying Google Apps customers can use the ActiveSync protocol to connect new mobile devices. This change is likely to harm the market chances of Windows (Phone) 8. Windows Phone users who want to connect their phone to Google will either have to pay for a Google Apps for Business subscription or ask Microsoft to support CardDAV and CalDAV.