Google will now charge for workgroups of 10 or less people using Google Apps. Google launched Google Apps in 2006 as a way to build an enterprise software business, AND it was free for up to 200 users. Then it was only 10. Now it is 0.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, “the company sold $1 billion worth of Google Apps for Business last year — a contention Google would not confirm.” Compare that to Microsoft’s $22 billion around the sale of Office. These numbers are much larger than expected.
While many small businesses will find that they need to begin to cut Google a monthly check, it won’t be for much. Moreover, if better support and more R&D goes into the Google Apps service, then this could actually be a positive move for most Google Apps users.
The Google Apps product continues to improve. However, it’s going to be very tough for Google to unseat Microsoft in office automation dominance. For now, it’s good to have choices.