When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses 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.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to make things very straightforward. Starting today for all new customers:
Individuals wishing to use Google’s web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.
For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year.
The first bits that eventually became Google Apps for Domains are 6 years old, and now the free product (which was the first one) is just gone. I have set up Google Apps accounts for tons of people over the years and use it myself on a daily basis.
I’m sad to see the free product go. My assumption is that this change is part of their apparent and current strategy of getting more and more people shoved over to Google+, which isn’t as ubiquitous on the Apps platform and doesn’t matter as much to business and/or government users.