Here’s the email that just hit my inbox:
Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.
Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.
Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.
You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.
Thank you for using Google Apps.
Director, Google Apps
As someone who has “installed” many instances of Google Apps, this is an unfortunate change, but not unexpected. When Google Apps launched, it was unproven, new technology. As such, they offered new users willing to take the plunge 500 free accounts. This was later slashed to 200, then 50, and finally just 10.
Even at 10 accounts, it was a great deal from small businesses. You got branded GMail, Docs, Calendar, and Sites along with simple, but unlimited email lists at no charge. Granted, the premium edition had more features, but they weren’t necessary for most users (and for me, never justified the $50/user-year price tag.
Now, you’ll either pay $60/year for each account, a $600 annual bill for a company of 10, or you can move to Microsoft’s Outlook for domains—a decent solution for email, but lacking the quality and further integration of Google’s offering.