Google Kills Free Apps (and Bleeds Small Businesses)

Google AppsFrom the ‘I’m a user’ files:

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have used and recommended Google Apps to hundreds of organizations over the years. In most cases, the people I help out are small groups and Google Apps Free was a great place to start.

No more.

With no warning whatsoever, Google is KILLING the Free Edition of Apps. Users will now need to use the $5 a month version instead.

This is a huge blow to small businesses startups in my admittedly biased view. For really small startups of less then 10 people, Google Apps let them get email and calendar for Free – now they’ll have to pay.

Google Apps Free also had the best deal going on Domain names – users could buy a .com domain from GoDaddy for only $10 including Privacy. Buying that same domain name from GoDaddy directly with Privacy typically cost $17 or more.

In my own experience, many of those smaller orgs that started out free, migrated to paid as their organizations grew. The free version was a great way to get started.

Instead what is now likely to happen is people like me will look for a different free alternative. It’s not just about $5 a month, it’s about time to live. With a free service, someone like me could help out an org very quickly. While $5 a month isn’t all that much, it’s still a cost and a barrier.

While this is clearly a cash grab by Google, I also suspect (and again I’m biased) that this move will also create an opening for an agile startup – a startup that recognizes that a freemium, free-to-paid low barrier email for orgs is a needed thing in today’s economy.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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