Ouch. Yesterday, Google announced that there will no longer be a free option for Google Apps. Period. If you want to use Google Apps for your domain, you’ll now need to pay $50/user/year. That’s per user, per year.

[quote float=”right”]Is your email worth $4.17 per month?[/quote] It comes out to $4.17/user/month. So really, if your email and calendar and Google Drive and contacts and syncing calendars and online document storage (and editing and sharing) for [email protected] isn’t worth $4.17 per month, then you can look into alternatives. For example Namecheap email, that will run you $3/user/year. That’s per year. But calendar, shared docs, shared spreadsheets, presentations, all linked up to [email protected] email? For a (big) latte per month? Hmm, maybe it’s not such a bad deal after all.

When I first heard this news, I was shocked, appalled, dare I say flabbergasted! But now that I write this up and balance what you’re getting for what you’ll now have to pay for, it’s hard to believe they didn’t start charging for all of this years ago. Even though Google has a gazoollion dollars.

But wouldn’t the free users eventually upgrade to Business?

If you take me (and my clients) as examples: no, we didn’t. The Business plan has 24/7 phone support (which I never needed because it never breaks!) and you get 25 GB of email storage compared to 10 GB for the (formerly) free account. I can delete old giant attachments and keep it under 10 GB. I think I have 60,000 emails in there. That’s enough. I think Google Groups did something fancier (like worked). But I didn’t see a reason to upgrade–especially for that whole $4.17/month.

I’m curious to see what people now do: will they cough over the change? Migrate to … what are the other options? What integrates the mail and the contacts and the calendar and the drive and the docs and the … what offers that? Microsoft? Apple?

[box type=”info”]Note: if you already have Google Apps, you’re grandfathered in. [/box]

Update: Lifehacker has a solution to get it for free still: Use Google App Engine to Get Google Apps for Your Domain for Free

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