CLOUD SERVICE PROVIDER Google has ditched the free version of its Google Apps services, forcing users to pay $50 a year if they want to continue using the services.
Google had offered Google Apps as a free service to small organisations for years, despite charging for the enterprise version of the services. Now Google has discontinued the free version, meaning that those who have come to rely on its services will have to pay $50 per user per year to continue using the cloud applications.
Clay Bavor, Google's director of product management claimed that most small businesses that use the free version of Google Apps soon grow out of it and need to upgrade. So instead of increasing what Google offers for free, the company has decided to drop the free services, with Bevor saying, "Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business," unless of course they can find a better deal elsewhere.
Bavor said that existing customers will still be charged $50 per user per year as before and added that Google Apps for education will still be free for schools and universities. However Google said the same thing about the free version of Google Apps back in 2007, so educational users might want to take note.
Google's decision to charge small firms for access to services that many have come to depend upon illustrates the power wielded by cloud providers once they have lured users into their walled gardens. Suddenly small firms that thought they were saving a packet by ditching their own servers and co-location contracts might find their operating expenses going up again. µ