Google Apps started with the simple idea that Gmail could help businesses and schools work better together without the hassles of managing software and servers. As we grew from a handful of customers to a few hundred, we expanded to offer a premium business version of Google Apps. Fast forward to today and Google Apps is used by millions of businesses. They've also added versions for governments, universities and schools.
When the premium business version was they kept their 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.
With this in mind, they've decided to make things very straightforward. Starting December 6, 2012 for all new customers:
- Individuals wishing to use Google's web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.
- For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for the 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 $5/user/month.
Please note this change has no impact on Google's existing customers, including those using the free version. And as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities. Also, as the first cloud productivity suite with FISMA certification, they'll continue to offer Google Apps for Government for $5/user/month.
With focus Google will be able to do even more for their business customers. We're excited about the opportunity to push Google Apps further so our customers can do what matters most to them–whether that's scooping ice cream, changing the face of healthcare or contributing to lifelong learning.