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December 7, 2012

Google Apps, No Longer Free For Small Organizations

Google Apps started back in 2006 as an experimental feature that allowed you to create Gmail accounts for custom domains. Google added support for other services like Calendar and Google Talk, created a special version for educational institutions, then it launched a "Premier Edition" for enterprises, which included support and a service level agreement for 99.9% Gmail availability. As Google constantly added features to Google Apps and the numbers of paid customers grew to more than 5 million businesses, the free version became more limited, the number of users dropping from 100 to 50 and then to 10.

Now Google announced that the free version of Google Apps is no longer available for new users. Existing users are not affected by this change and Google Apps for Education continues to be available. Google's explanation for dropping the free Google Apps for small organizations is rather vague: "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."

Well, not everyone needed customer support, SLAs, migration tools or other business features and Google Apps was a simple way to create email addresses for your domain and use Gmail to manage them. Why pay $50/user/year for features you don't need?


It's obvious that Google wants to focus on paid customers and the free Google Apps was just another thing to support. Now that Google Apps has more than 5 million business customers, Google no longer needs the free Google Apps to attract new users. The free Google Apps was just a burden that made things more complicated.


Update: Apparently, there's a workaround that lets you use the free version of Google Apps for a single account. "If you create a new Apps account going through the App Engine Admin Console you'll still be able to create a Standard Apps account for free but you'll only be able to get 1 user per account rather than the 10 you get today," says Greg D'Alesandre, Senior Product Manager for Google App Engine.

{ Thanks, Arpit. }

24 comments:

  1. So, what's the problem? Did they cut off currently free users?

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    1. Yea, means that families can no longer use Google Apps, so no more bob@smith.com (unless each family member wants to pay £33 a year).

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    2. I see.. That means they have to change their domain names to avoid paying that amount yearly. They can save money through this. They can use a Domain Checker to accomplish this effectively.

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    3. No, I signed up many years ago for what they were then calling Google Apps For Your Domain (GAFYD). Apparently I, and other existing small business users, were grandfathered in for (HOPEFULLY) lifetime free service for upto to 10 domains.

      So I have not experienced any issues at all. In fact the free service is even sweeter knowing that others must pay for it. That delicious schadenfreude I suppose ;>

      Although I once I hit that 10 domain limit, I will have to figure out some other solution, or start paying up I suppose.

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  2. Perhaps, free "single-user" Google Apps account is still possible:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/google-appengine/pVZfdeky-ow/TO1SmipM2Y0J

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  3. The people (and families) that I know of that are using the free edition are not candidates for the business edition. For them it is just about getting a google account but with their own domain name, and if this weren't free they would have gone elsewhere.

    I find that the #1 impediment to consumer's getting a Google account is that they can't find a gmail address that they like. So, Google should have gone in the opposite direction by making it much easier for consumers to create a free Google Apps account (with custom domain).

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    1. If they get one of their ICANN gTLD submissions up next year, you can bet they'll be pushing this.

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  4. Hey maybe Obama can force Google to keep giving them free stuff??? After all Google, you didn't build that.

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    1. You do know that Obama was referring to the PUBLIC infrastructures, like roads? *sigh* the stupidity

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  5. That's disappointing. I have one for our family that's really worked well and been kind of cool. Sad to know that others can't have this same option in the future.

    There was no support costs, it was all handled by Google Groups.

    I think there still ought to be a nearly-free option, maybe $10/user/year? $50/user/year could add up for small businesses and non-profits.

    Or have I misunderstood the changes they're making?

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  6. The google app engine back door let me sign up 10 users today, quick, before they notice

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    1. Tried twice an hour ago and it only allows one user. Do you still have a link that you used for signup in your browser history? Maybe it will allow creation of more users. The current one-user link (from AppEngine) is: https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/standard/new3?refererName=AppEngine. Thanks!

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  7. Existing free accounts for small businesses and families are grandfathered. This change only affects new Google Apps accounts.

    I am disappointed that Google has chosen to eliminate free accounts going forward since it was the small businesses and families that were the early adopters and they played a huge role in the enterprise adoption that there is today. We helped prove the concept and work out the bugs... and we did it without Google support that is reserved for its paying customers.

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  8. I will miss Google Apps free... it was the best way to set up custom domain emails along with its free suite of stuff. Sigh...

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  9. @Kelvin, Microsoft is offering custom domain Windows Live accounts with outlook.com and SkyDrive at http://domains.live.com -- that could be a decent workaround.

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  10. More sad news from Google. I registered many free Google Apps domains since 2006 and some of companies decided to go Premium (mainly cause of limited inbox disk space). Actually Google Apps free was the best way of solving mail server tasks for small organisations with providing them greate web services by Google as Talk, Docs, iGoogle, Reader, etc. Now its impossible for free and I'm sure that most of potential clients of Google Apps services here in Russia will refuse from tasting and testing that useful stuff for 50$ per account. And one more problem that Google is dramatically reducing the quantity of useful services by disabling them thus going Google have less advantages.
    By the way the main russian competitor of Google search which is Yandex also provides mail for domains solution with spam filter, unlimited number of mail accounts and unlimited inbox disk space. Yandex mail is not so advanced and full of features like Google ones but they work on it and it works.

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  11. I am disappointed. I am also a bit cautious how long will Goolge let me use my account for free.
    I liked Google, but the introduction and prevalence of G+ is not to my liking.
    I would have never thought of myself looking towards Microsoft's offerings, but I am currently considering it.

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    1. I agree. And since Google is slowly moving away from its ffreeconomics model, I recently tried Microsoft's domains.live.com and they are excellent. You get: the new Outlook which is much better than Hotmail, People which are you contacts, Skydive 7GB, and Calendar. The messenger as you know is always there. The only thing I don't like is that customization is not as good. Of course, it does not compare to Google apps but it's the best free option for both small business and families. you can create 500 accounts and if you need more, just ask for them, and there is no charge.

      I wish Google allowed us to create as many users as domains.live.com.


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  12. My company is using google apps since 4 years with 30 users ..all of sudden it stopped working and not even signed in.our entire data is there with google..please help how do we enable ???

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  13. yes how to enable?
    really confused
    gotta read through this again
    see what's happening

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  14. it's as easy as pie if you just read thoroughly enough
    pm me at my aim for a walk through

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  15. I can help you contact me on my google plus page

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  16. I registered a domain name through google sites 1 month back. Now I come to know email is part of google apps and i have to pay monthly fee to use email as google apps is free for 1 month!! This is ridiculous! Actually I don't need any of the google apps. I only need email to be accessed from outlook, only 1 account. As the domain name is registered through godaddy, can Godaddy provide access to email and give me imap, smtp, pop3 details so I can access through outlook? Can anyone help. thanks.

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