Posted December 7, 2012 8:11 am by with 11 comments

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I have to admit that this news doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s a little disconcerting because once Google gets away from the free model on anything that is already large and still a lot of room to grow, like Google Apps, the rest of the freemium world will follow suit. Actually, if the paid version of the suite of productivity gets what is being promised as a result of generating revenue it would be a good thing.

The Wall Street Journal tells us

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.

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

I’m not sure if you did the same double take that I did when a Google SVP actually said, “We’re not serving them well” but I double-took (Yes, I made that word up) so hard that I need to now visit my chiropractor.

Google and the idea of customer support have NEVER been synonymous, unless, of course you are a big spender. They treat big spenders like Vegas treats high rollers. As far as cusotmer support for the commoner though, just look at how horrific their local offering is. It’s actually an embarrassment that a brand as large and well respected as Google puts out a literal piece of crap and calls it a product that everyone should be participating in. At least, this move to support Google Apps makes sense.

Hey Google folks, how about this one. What if you charge SMB’s $50 per year for their Google+ Local listing and then you actually clean up, support and build that area as well? Now that would be news.

I know a lot of SMB’s who would be thrilled to have a product for local that makes some sense and doesn’t act like it needs to be exorcised of demons like the current iteration does now.

Oh well, back to the story at hand. How do you feel about Google Apps no longer being free?

  • Anonymous Coward

    I feel like Google is missing something here. Often times, the little guys will learn new and exciting technologies because they are free. Eventually then they will become the instruments of change in society. Google now charges? Well, people will start looking for new and interesting technologies that are free elsewhere.

    • I think that is a very valid point.

      The one thing Google can leverage that literally no one else can, is their brand and the reach of that brand. Also, the integration of so many of these services together makes it harder to just use pieces of the puzzle and leave others out. Kinda brilliant and kinda hamfisted all at once, isn’t it?

      So why be the ‘Anonymous Coward’ with a good point like that?

  • Rick

    (note: I’m in no way affiliated with or connected to this site).

    I found this worked to sign up for a free account still:

    Basically it’s a workaround. You create a fake application, then that gives you a link to sign up and it’s still the old free account link. No idea how long it’ll work for though but I can confirm it was working about 30 mins ago.

    • Sid

      You can sign up – but you have just one account!!!! No use

  • Miguel

    Google started to collect data from the usage of their free user accounts in order to sell people’s “interests” to comercial companies. It was called targeted marketing.
    Now that they “know all about us” and our interests and so on, their will charge for the service.

    It is a lie that free account were not interesting for Google.
    It was very useful to set up Internet behaviours and moves… they made a LOT of money with free accounts

    Very very disapointed! I was a local Google reseller, and it bothers me also to know that Google cancel their free service in a blog post… that’s not vey professional, sorry to say that…
    Resellers just have been informed earlier since part of their jobs is affected.
    Google doesn’t care for reselllers… it only cares about using thousand of people to sell their business services… for free… Google only pays you (10%) if you sell.

    So…so long Google. If you want to have local sellers for your services, then hire them!!

    • Omo Busin

      I agree, they already make an extraordinary amount of money data mining these “free” accounts and now they want to charge as well. Like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe they prove when companies get too big and can operate as virtual monopolies their customers come last.

  • Stupid. It was fine where it was at…

    • Oh, and by the way, I’m a Google Apps reseller and I still think it’s stupid…

  • Jim

    The whole idea of using Google Apps is it’s free and it can be accessed from anywhere.
    It was never because it is better or easier than Microsoft Office suite installed on a local computer. Indeed, running business productivity applications inside of a web browser is so awkward and limited, not to mention it is slower, and you cannot use it without Internet connection (e.g. on an airplane). Now it is no longer free, SMBs really should look for better alternatives. has offered cloud IT service to SMBs since 2003. It is a one-stop shop for all core IT services such as file server, email server, FTP server, static web server, online backup, folder synchronization, group file sharing and collaboration with user access control. It has tons of high-end business features all bundled for the same low prices. Our user license costs only $0.6/user/month, why not give it a try?

  • I can’t see it being a problem, the Internet is suppose to be free, not Google.

  • Deborah Aldridge

    Don’t care. I’m more concerned that you can no longer use a naked URL on Blogger. I’m ready to move my blogs elsewhere. I reckon this is the beginning of them starting to charge for Blogger too.