Google Apps for Domains is probably one of the most popular services from Google widely used by Startups, Freelancers and SMEs. It has been a boon millions of small businesses around the world. Google Apps mail has been especially popular, because it offered a rock solid free email platform which used same Gmail infrastructure and interface.
However, writing has been on the wall. They have, over a period of last 2 years, reduced the free user numbers from nearly 200 to less than 10 a few months back. Finally, Google announced in a blog post today that the free version of Google Apps for Business is going away.
So what does it mean – What it means is, from now on, no new free accounts will be available for anyone. If you are an individual, you can obviously use the Gmail account (email with @gmail extension). And for businesses, it will paid. So. if you have a personal domain name (like @trak.in) for email, that you want to use, you will have to pay up. The pricing remains the same for Business accounts – USD 50 per year or roughly about Rs. 2750 per year.
At less than Rs. 250 per month, Google offers you 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. If you can afford it, that is the way to go.
Existing Google App users need not worry
People who have already created an account with Google Apps are in luck and do not need to worry. This new change will not impact any 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. That does not change.
There is another advantage if you are a existing user, you can still add new additional domains to your account, through the "Domain Alias” feature available with Google Plus. For example, currently you have a free apps account on domain @xyz.com and now you need a mail on @abc.com, just add the latter to your account and you will be able to start using firstname.lastname@example.org as email, just like normal apps account.
However, there is small catch you should be aware about. It will use the same quota of users – So if you have 10 user accounts, you will only be able to create those many users irrespective to the number of alias domains you add to your account.
Opportunity for Others?
With Google Apps coming out of the race, there is definitely a need that is created for similar accounts. Till now, demand was taken care by Google, but with them gone, somebody will need to cash-in on this opportunity. Yahoo? Microsoft? who will it be?
Also, there are couple of providers who offer custom domain emails, but have got severe limitations. Lets see how this particular opportunity gets exploited by others!