Google on Thursday announced that it would no longer allow users to sign up to its Google Apps service free of charge.
Clay Bavor, director of product management for Google Apps, writes in a company blog post that the company will move to a paid service model so it can focus on user experience quality, specifically on providing better support for paying business customers.
According to Bavor:
“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, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready. “
Customers who had already signed up for Google Apps will be able to continue the service free of charge.
Premium Google Apps support is relatively low-priced at just $50 per user, per year.
Among its business-grade paid services will be 24/7 phone support, 25GB inbox, and a guaranteed uptime of 99.9 percent.
Approximately 5 million US users are believed to use Google Apps and most use the company’s free version. More than 40 million users take advantage of Google Apps worldwide.
Google is encouraging users who want a free service to start with its new Google Drive cloud service and then purchase more space as deemed necessary by the end user.
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