Search engine giant Google has said it will begin charging small businesses, including those with less than 10 users, for using its apps as it seeks to offer a stronger experience to its users.
This means that the standard $50 per user applies across the board for usage of its online app platform.
The move to charge Google apps for business is expected to affect over 40 million users, going by the 2011 estimation of the people who use the apps for email, calendar and an online office suite.
Analysts say Google’s decision is unlikely to lead to migration to Google’s apps competitor Microsoft office 360, which charges $6 a month offering email service and online versions of its Word, PowerPoint and Excel programs.
However, should such a migration occur, it would be detrimental to Google as software maker Microsoft already controls 90 percent of the office software market.
Google through Clay Bavor, its director of product management for Google Apps, says that with every business now paying for the apps it eliminates confusion on the company different offerings.
“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,” Clay said.
This is not a sudden move as the company has been eliminating the number of businesses that can use free apps gradually. During the launch of the apps, the company offered them for free before it set a limit of users who can access the apps for free to 50 in 2009, 10 in 2011 and now none.
“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.”
Google Apps for business are however to remain free for schools and universities.