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Google to start charging new users for its Apps for Business service

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Google lovers who plan to use the platform for their business needs better listen up. The search engine giant announced on Friday that users will no longer be able to sign up for Google Apps free of charge.

Google Apps for Business is a cloud-based productivity suite that lets business owners and managers connect with their team members from any where on any device. This includes apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets and other popular Google apps tailored to a particular business.

The company’s director of product management Clay Bavor announced via his blog that users will now have to pay when signing up for these enterprise-based services. He explained that Google is putting more emphasis on creating a stronger and fuller user experience for paying customers.

“When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well,” Bavor wrote. “Both business and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.”

The paid version of Google Apps will only apply to new customers. Those already using a free account will not be forced to pay the annual $50 fee that newcomers will soon be forking over. Bavor clearly specified the difference between the paid and free version of Google Apps, emphasizing that the latter is aimed toward business needs.

Individuals wishing to use the company’s Web apps like Gmail and Google Docs should register for a free personal account, while businesses will now have one paid version to work with. Bavor advises companies “of any size” to sign up for Google’s premium Google Apps for Business, which features 24/7 customer support, a 25GB inbox and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime.

Other versions of Google Apps, such as Google Apps for Education and Google Apps for Government, will not be affected.

“With focus we’ll be able to do even more for our business customers,” the Google executive wrote. “We’re excited about the opportunity to push Google Apps further so our customers can do what matters most to them – whether that’s scooping ice cream, changing the face of healthcare or contributing to lifelong learning.”

More than five million businesses are reportedly using Google Apps, according to The Next Web. Including both free and paid versions, Google Apps is said to be used by more than 40 million users worldwide.

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