Google apps: No more freebies for small businesses

Google Inc is to start charging small businesses $50 for Gmail, word processing and other apps included in its web-based office productivity software.

The fee comes as the internet giant struggles to expand revenue beyond its core advertising services, Reuters reports.

In a post on the company’s blog, Google argues this change will allow it to provide a more consistent service to business customers.

“Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes,” Google said.

Google web-based office productivity apps will come at a price.

Existing customers will continue to receive the service for free, but new ones will be charged $50 per year – the same as larger businesses – to use Google Apps software, which includes email, word processing, spread sheet and presentation tools.

Google estimates that more than 5 million businesses use Google Apps. The company did not unveil the share of businesses using its services for free.

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