Google's announcement to discontinue their free 'Google Apps for Business' service left many businesses looking for a good, free alternative. This service provided businesses a way to utilize their domain name in conjunction with gmail and all the free services that come with it including the Contact manager within Gmail, the very handy and useful Google Calendar, as well as their amazing collaboration function through Google Drive just to name a few. In reality, Google has been providing a very robust back office at absolutely no cost to us, until now.
From a business standpoint, many of us wondered and even predicted that someday Google would start charging for their email service. So we shouldn't be surprised. Instead, let's look at the value of these services versus the cost that Google is charging. They are getting $5 per month per account through their paid Google Apps for Business. That's $60 per year, per email address, so if you have 10 people in your company or organization that want to have their email address @yourdomain.com, then that would run $600 per year payable to Google.
If you don't mind your email address being firstname.lastname@example.org, then this service is still a free service. Google has only done away with Google Apps for Business being free. So it's just no more free gmail with @yourdomain.com.
There are other ways to utilize your domain name. A lot of businesses use a web hosting service for their email, allowing them to have @yourdomain.com for their email addresses then combine that with other free services like free online calendars, etc. We charge an extra $10 per month flat rate for up to 10 email accounts. In comparison to Google's $600 per year, you would only pay $120 per year through us for 10 accounts. This only includes email though, not the other service included in Google Apps for Business. In our opinion, Google's $5 per month for all that they offer is a tremendous bargain.
Should you want to try something other than Google, several have suggested that Zoho Calendar is the best option for those who want to share a fully functional online calendar with a group. It's free and very similar to Google Calendar. It has some very good options including import/export, sharing with anyone regardless of email address, ability to easily embed on your website, is available on mobile devices and has a nice visual format.
We will continue to monitor and explore more options for our customers. The good news is that Google is grandfathering in everyone who was already on Google Apps for Business. This change only affects new customers trying to signup or complete their signup process. If it wasn't already completed and verified, you're out of luck.
For more questions, email me (email@example.com) or call us toll free 800 783-1103. Google, Google Calendar, Google Apps for Business and any other reference to Google are Trademark Google, Inc.