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December 11, 2012

Google Apps for Businesses No Longer Free

Businesses of all sizes wishing to sign up for Google Apps will now have to shell out $50 a year.

Google said its basic app, used by millions of businesses, is no longer meeting the needs of its users.

“When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well,” Google Apps director of product management Clay Bavor said in a blog post.

“Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. 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.”

As a result, there will now be only one app for businesses. Companies of all sizes must now sign up for the premium version: Google Apps for Business. This app includes round-the-clock phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. The app has an annual fee of $50 per user.

Existing business customers using the free app will not be affected by the changes, at least, not yet.

Personal accounts will remain free with “a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device,” Bavor said.

Google Apps for Education will also continue to be free for schools and universities.

“With focus we’ll be able to do even more for our business customers,” Bavor said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to push Google Apps further so our customers can do what matters most to them–whether that’s scooping ice cream, changing the face of health-care or contributing to lifelong learning.”