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Google Moves To Start Charging Small Business For Google Apps

     
6:49 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google Inc. said it stopped offering its suite of Web-based software for businesses—known as Google Apps—free of charge to groups of 10 or fewer users, as it moves to generate revenue from previously free services.Google Moves To Start Charging Small Business For Google Apps [online.wsj.com]
Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president in charge of Google Apps, said Google wants to provide small businesses that use the free version of the software with dedicated customer support—something only paying customers currently get. "We're not serving them well," he said of the free users.
7:22 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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funny argument. those free biz users could have paid for the upgraded service if they had wanted it.
8:11 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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"We're not serving them well," he said of the free users.

Sounds like they're gonna get "served" now, though.

...
8:16 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have nothing wrong with paying for it, it's incredibly valuable, but I agree, the argument is ridiculous.
11:12 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I run a few of the free ones and one paying one (due to more than 50 users). In all the years I've never had much need for support, but on the one occasion I did need support, it luckily was on the for pay one and I must say the help was excellent, to the point and fast.

Regardless, before Google Apps I was on the verge of giving up on email (I get about 1000 spam messages a day as a minimum, and I've once been flooded with 10000 in a few hours). Google's spam filters outclass everything out there, and that alone is well worth what they charge for the service.

In the end you get what you pay for and I'll be happy to pay for the accounts in the smaller domains if I have to.

The argumentation is obviously bogus, but not having 2 versions of the same will hopefully allow them to simplify it all a bit (the two are different) and as a result to put in faster evolution of the service. Or to put a few more people on improving it as it generates more money for them.
11:53 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I think charging is a good thing because Google needs more revenue streams so they don't go belly up if AdWords were to suffer a major slump or suddenly die.

If businesses can't afford to pay these really low usage fees they probably shouldn't be in business anyway.
3:51 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google's spam filters outclass everything out there, and that alone is well worth what they charge for the service.

Even the Data they might, or might not, could get their greasy hands on?
8:30 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Ridiculous argument. But typical... Get people "hooked" on a free service and then start charging for it. Now THAT is customer service!
12:33 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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>>I think charging is a good thing

Bill, aren't you the one who is always saying that Google has no customers, just users? In other words, if you're using a free service, you ARE the product.

I have two worries about free services
1. They will disappear entirely
2. They will start charging

Ultimately, #2 is the better outcome. In this case, though, they are only charging for new signups (and I just signed up a business last week!)

>>Regardless, before Google Apps I was on the verge of giving up on email

I really didn't want to end up using Google for my mail, whether apps or GMail. I didn't like the interface, I didn't like the feature set, I didn't like the idea of Google having that much control of my data. But desperate with one option after another failing, I switched a few years ago and like Swa said, it made email bearable again (barely).

I still hate how beholden it makes me, but at least if it's on my own domain and I occasionally pull my emails out and archive them (easy with IMAPSize or GMail Backup), I can always just update the MX record and retake control any time. This to me is the big advantage of Apps over GMail. But I've been wondering about Bill's thoughts on that because of a comment you made a while back.
4:59 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Bill, aren't you the one who is always saying that Google has no customers, just users? In other words, if you're using a free service, you ARE the product.


Apples and Oranges as I may have said something like that related to search but not other services.
9:15 am on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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We are seeing a spree of spectacularly bad business decisions from big companies who should know better. First Microsoft with the whole "we can't cope with different versions of Windows code for different devices so we are going to jumble everything into one product" and now Google saying "we no longer want to know how your small business' emails, websites, analytics and content are linked together." The mind boggles.
4:08 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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From the article:

Mr. Pichai added that the millions of people who already use the free version will continue to get it free.


Regardless of how we all feel about this move, it's actually very significant in another way. Google has until now given away these free services in exchange for the rights to mine your data, as clearly spelled out in the privacy policy. This is a shift from "data as currency" to "money as currency", and I'm not sure what it means. Have they given up on their quest to out-data-mine Facebook?
8:38 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I think, either:

1) The ratio of free users was too high, or,
2) It was always the plan to charge: it was free to get it established.

So now Google is making money from an office suite (its on their servers, but does the same), while MS is making money from search? Neither is making much, but threats are good for both of them (from users POV!).
10:16 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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So, is it time to make a plan for your migration off Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo! mail? I guess not, because, as I said, you are the product (the customer is the ad buyer).

>>Apples and Oranges

Not really - applies to any free service I think. For Facebook, TWitter, Gmail, Hotmail, etc etc etc, I am an asset, a resource, a data set, a product.

That's true even in traditional publishing. The reason Newsweek is $5 at the newstand and $0.27 by subscription is that subscription levels are what support ad buys. Clearly that magazine costs more to produce and send than $0.27, so I'm being sold there as well.
10:36 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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are there any free alternatives?
10:42 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The reason Newsweek is $5 at the newstand ...


Not for long, they are ending the print edition .
12:24 am on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'd like to see Google charging everyone for Gmail. Even if it is $1 for a year, it would almost wipe out spam overnight. :)
12:45 am on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Can those with vanity domains now charge $7 for email addresses? If Google's getting $5 a month this could be a good business model.
7:46 am on Dec 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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>>Not for long, they are ending the print edition .

It's lightweight and sometimes aggravating, but I'll miss it. And they owe me for perhaps 70 unsent issues
3:05 pm on Dec 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Kinda like a drug dealer, give it to them free for a while then start charging. Sad to charge smaller groups when larger groups take up more resources and can likely afford being charged.
5:14 am on Dec 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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> free for a while then start charging.

Only if you're above a certain size

>> charge smaller groups when larger groups take up more resources and can likely afford being charged


Google Apps charges on a per-user basis ($5/user/month). Since the costs don't scale linearly, the small guys are, relatively speaking, getting a better deal (no doubt costing more per user and paying the same).