From today, businesses of all sizes that sign up to Google’s suite of web-based productivity tools will now have to pay US$50 per user per year for the service.
Google Apps for businesses includes access to services like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive for business users to manage things and collaborate in the cloud. A premium, paid-for version of the service was introduced back in 2007 when businesses with 50 users or more were asked to pay for additional services, such as 24/7 phone support.
From 2011, businesses with 10 users or more were subject to the fee, and, from today, all businesses – no matter how small – will have no other choice but to sign up for the premium service.
Existing users can continue to avail of the free service, while Google Apps for Education will remain free for schools and universities.
Google says the premium service will better serve business users thanks to constant phone support, a 25GB inbox and a 99.9pc uptime guarantee (so no scheduled downtime). It will also, no doubt, be a strong revenue stream for Google as the service is used by millions of businesses as an alternative to Microsoft’s Office suite and Exchange business-class email.