Google converts another free service

Google Apps will no longer be offered for free to groups with 10 or fewer users.

For some small businesses, it probably seems like a bait and switch: Google said last week that it will stop offering Google Apps for free to groups with fewer than 11 users. The change of heart comes as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) continues trying to turn free services into revenue generators, reports Amir Efrati at the Wall Street Journal.

It's all for the good of the user, Google insisted. Small businesses using the suite of cloud-based applications will be better served by paying for the software and receiving dedicated customer support, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Google Apps.

Until 2011, companies with 50 or fewer users did not have to pay to use Google Apps. In 2012, companies with 10 or fewer users did not have to pay. According to Google, more five million businesses use Google Apps, most of which have not been using the paid version. 

Earlier this year, Google started requiring retailers to pay to be part of the Google Shopping service.

For more:
- see Amir Efrati's article at The Wall Street Journal

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