After more than a decade of being a free service, Google has changed its tune and will begin charging its G Suite users.
This change means small businesses that use the product can no longer simply pay for a domain name and use Google’s business email for free.
Instead, users will be required to upgrade from the G Suite legacy free edition — which includes emails and apps such as Google Docs and Google Calendar — to a Google Workspace subscription.
Google’s Help Centre says the free edition will cease to exist on June 27, and that, once upgraded, users can begin “using [the] new security and collaboration functionality at no cost through August 1, 2022”.
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After that, monthly payments will begin at varying prices depending on a business’ needs.
What does this mean for business?
For big businesses, this change won’t matter too much. The free legacy suite has had a capped number of users for quite some time, meaning most large organisations are already on a paid product.
However, for SMEs the choice is to either start paying, or find an alternative.
If SMEs don’t take action to upgrade their accounts by August 1, 2022, Google will automatically transition them to a paid Google Workspace account anyway.
However, if no billing account is available, Google will suspend any accounts associated with the domain on the August 1 deadline.
As per the current pricing model on Google, businesses will be expected to pay $8.40 per user per month to keep their existing data and accounts, 30GB of cloud storage, Gmail accounts with their own domain and video meetings with up to 100 participants.
There are increased subscription offerings available, at higher costs per user.
According to The New York Times, small business owners have been “disappointed” by the way Google has approached the change.
“They can’t help but feel that a giant company with billions of dollars in profits is squeezing little guys — some of the first businesses to use Google’s apps for work — for just a bit of money,” the NYT reports.
Pushing back the deadline
This frustration from small business owners isn’t just a financial concern. Google had actually announced its payment model earlier this year, with May 1 as the initial deadline.
Some small business owners told the NYT that when the impending change was first announced, they began ruminating over whether to pay Google or completely abandon its services, and that “they struggled to get in touch with customer support”.
“I don’t mind [Google] kicking us off,” Supreme Equipment Company owner Samad Sajanlal told the NYT.
“But don’t give us an unrealistic deadline to go and find an alternative while you’re still deciding if you really want to kick us off in the first place.”
Gmail was first launched in 2004, with business apps such as Google Docs and Google Sheets being added two years later.
While testing the apps, Google told business owners that the products would remain free for life; however, Google has reiterated that the terms of service for its business software stated the company could suspend or terminate the offering in the future.
Or, as it seems, start charging for it.