The charge over a year is not actually a large one but will have an impact on many small businesses around the world who are struggling to keep up with payment demands during an increasingly difficult economic period.
The reason behind the charge to small businesses was explained by Clay Bavor from Google through a blog post.
“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. As we grew from a handful of customers to a few hundred, we expanded to offer a premium business version of Google Apps. Fast forward to today and Google Apps is used by millions of businesses. We’ve also added versions for governments, universities and schools.
“When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. 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, customers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.”
So Google have justified the changes by saying that they want to be able to provide the best possible service for all users and the only way for this to work is to charge for the service on a yearly basis.
The changes have been brought in by Google today and will work like this:
Individuals wanting to use web Apps from Google including Gmail, need to create their own free personal account to be able to use all the Apps on offer from Google.
Businesses will now only have one version to use, instead of two. Any company of any size will now need to sign up for the premium Google Apps for Business service.
The cost of the premium service will be $50 per year and will allow businesses access to 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox and a 99.9% uptime guarentee.
These changes will have no impact on existing customers and will only apply to any new customers wanting to use the service.
Google Apps for education will also continue to be free for schools and universities.