Announced back 2007 and free for organizations with less than 20 users (IIRC), Google Apps provides email services like gmail, storage services through Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) and a calendaring service alongside office productivity apps like in-browser word processor, spreadsheet and presentation graphics app. Businesses having greater strength had to go for a subscription based service where they were charged at a US $50 per year per user.
Explaining the decision, Google noted in a blog post that because of demands such as 24×7 customer support; larger inboxes; guaranteed uptime, they had to go for ‘straightforward’ approach. “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”, said Google.
Google has now bifurcated its apps in two services: for individuals and for businesses. The Android maker has removed the free apps for businesses and new business customers will have to sign up for premium services. Business users will have the privilege of having 24/7 customer support, larger inboxes, guaranteed uptime and the likes.
“Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year”, notes Google.