Google Apps for Business Moving to Revenue-Based Service Model

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Google will terminate free availability of its Google Apps business software -- including e-mail, Google Docs, and Google Drive storage -- to groups of 10 or fewer users. 

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The report suggests that Google is responding to Apple's practice of charging businesses for its online iCloud software, while also competing directly with Microsoft's Office software and Exchange e-mail service. As the company looks to generate revenue from its extensive small business clientele, senior vice president Sundar Pichai told the WSJ that small businesses will now receive committed Google service, which has been absent under the free model, while millions of individuals users of the free service will retain access to the cloud-based software at no cost.

Starting in 2011, any business with more than 10 users paid $50 annually per user for access to Google's services. Prior to that, only companies with more than 50 users were obligated to pay for use of the service. 

As cloud-based software and storage solutions continue to attract enterprise customers, Google has gradually altered its position on the use of its services in effort to remain competitive with other companies in the long-run. The focus now on small business development may alarm current users, however the promise of more committed service and improving software might balance the proposition for such businesses alongside other fee-based alternatives.