Many businesses, both large and small, utilize Google’s suite of office software, but the price of that software is about to increase for businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Google has announced that it will begin charging even small business clients for its Google Apps tools, which include word processing, email, and calendar functionality. Google Apps had been free for small businesses, but will now cost the same as it does for large companies: $50 per user per year.
According to Google’s official blog, the price hike is a response to the fact that “Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version [of Google Apps] and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes.” The move is also an attempt by Google to broaden its revenue sources beyond the traditional online advertising sphere. Google Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora has dubbed enterprise business such as Google Apps a “future growth engine” for the company.
As of the beginning of 2012, over 5 million businesses use Google Apps. Those that already use the free version of the software will not be required to pay for its use, but they will have to pay in order to access the software’s premium features. Google Apps for Business is now the name for the one and only premium version of Google Apps. Free services, most notably Gmail, will remain available to consumers free of charge.
The $50 fee for small businesses is the latest step in the monetization of Google Apps–the software was free for businesses with 50 or fewer employees until 2011.
Oreskovic, Alexei. “Google to Charge Small Businesses for Web-based Apps Software.” Reuters, 12/6/12.