It kind of goes without saying as the screenshot above clearly shows – I’m a huge fan of Google Apps and if I got a penny for every single person that I convinced to use them (or helped setup) I’d be incredibly wealthy.
Their free plan for businesses was the perfect solution for startups, budding entrepreneurs, small businesses, and those that wanted a more cohesive personal brand. It was the go-to place for email, collaboration software, calendaring, and more. I personally have no less than 20 Google App accounts (and apparently more as I continue to get discontinuation notices!).
But Google is doing away with this free service as they announced on their blog and with that I’m disappointed because my future projects, businesses, and organizations won’t be able to use this service without paying $5 per month per user.
This means that the rise of Google Apps alternatives is here. I don’t think that the world will be returning to webhosting POP mail (besides the fact that many of them use Google Apps to pull from there) but it does open a door for new enterprising individuals and businesses to create a new email ecosystem and play.
Heck, if I had the time (and interest) I’d be seriously looking into building a new free email service for Google Apps refugees; but I don’t.
It’s worth noting that you can still get one free account if you do the following:
The Apps Standard account you have today will continue to work for free. If you create a new Apps account going through the App Engine Admin Console you’ll still be able to create a Standard Apps account for free but you’ll only be able to get 1 user per account rather than the 10 you get today.
Let me know if you have additional questions,
Senior Product Manager, Google App Engine
But what startup company or even individual is going to just need one account? You’ll at least need a few, right?
One solution and Google Apps alternative that I’m looking into is Zoho, a Google Apps competitor that allows up to three free accounts (forever):
You can have a branded domain for your new venture and get started there. If you do have to increase you get an even better pricing structure than Google Apps at $2.50 per user per month. That’s 50% less than Google Apps for Business now.
If you have any other alternatives I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Finally, I’d like to put my own hat in the ring here and say that although I’m disappointed with Google’s decision here I think it makes complete sense, despite the other possibilities that they had for further monetization. I respect their decision even though I disagree with it and will leave it at that. But, I am excited about the future of email as this opens the gates wide open for incredible entrepreneurs to create even better (and free) alternatives.
So get to it!