Free version of Google Apps for Business canned

Google Apps for Business logo

Google has scrapped the free version of its business-focused online productivity suite, meaning SMBs will now be charged 33 per person, per year to use it.

Previously, firms with fewer than 10 employees were able to use Google Apps for Business for free.

The firm announced the move in a blog post yesterday, and stressed the charges will only apply to new Google Apps for Business users. The consumer version of the product will also remain free.

Time has shown that the free experience isn't quite right for either group.

"Google Apps started with the simple idea that Gmail could help businesses and schools work better together without the hassles of managing software and servers...[and] is [now] used by millions of businesses," wrote Clay Bavor, director of product management at Google Apps.

"When we launched the premium business version, we kept our free, basic version as well...but time has shown that the experience isn't quite right for either group."

As a result, the firm is ditching the free version, meaning all business users will now have to pay to access it.

In exchange, they will get access to a 25GB inbox, a 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee and 24 hour customer support.

"Please note this change has no impact on our existing customers...and, as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities," added Bavor.

"With focus we'll be able to do even more for our business customers. We're excited about the opportunity to push Google Apps further so our customers can do what matters most to them," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.