Google ends its free G Suite offering, forcing SMBs to pay for Google Workspace instead

Google has changed its tone. Source: Unsplash/Pewel Czerwinski.

After being a free service for over a decade, Google has changed its tone and is starting to charge its G Suite users.

This change means that small businesses using the product can no longer just pay for a domain name and use Google business email for free.

Instead, users must upgrade from the legacy free edition of G Suite, which includes emails and apps like Google Docs and Google Calendar, to a Google Workspace subscription.

Google Help Center says the free version will end on June 27 and users can start “using” after the upgrade [the] free new security and collaboration functionality until August 1, 2022”.

After that, the monthly payments begin at different prices depending on the needs of a business.

What does this mean for business?

For large companies, this change does not matter much. The free legacy suite has had a limited number of users for quite some time, meaning most large organizations are already using a paid product.

For SMEs, however, the choice is either to start paying or to look for an alternative.

If SMBs don’t take action to upgrade their accounts before August 1, 2022, Google will automatically transfer them to a paid Google Workspace account anyway.

However, if a billing account is not available, Google will suspend all accounts associated with the domain by the August 1 deadline.

Under the current pricing model on Google, businesses are 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 conferencing with up to 100 participants.

A wider subscription offering is available at a higher cost per user.

According to The New York Times, Small business owners are “disappointed” with how Google has approached the change.

“They can’t help but feel like a giant multi-billion dollar company is squeezing out little guys—one of the first companies to use Google apps for work—for just a little bit of money,” NYT reports.

Shifting the deadline

This frustration of 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 mulling over whether to pay Google or abandon its services entirely, and that “they struggled to get in touch with customer service”.

“I do not mind [Google] kicking us off,” Samad Sajanlal, owner of Supreme Equipment Company told the NYT

“But don’t give us an unrealistic deadline to look for an alternative while you’re still deciding whether you really want to kick us off.”

Gmail was first launched in 2004, with business apps like Google Docs and Google Sheets 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 its business software’s terms of service stated that the company could suspend or terminate the offering in the future.

Or, as it seems, start paying with it.

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