Changes are afoot for Google Apps for Business, including a new payment option, lowering the user limit for companies to 10 people, and rolling out a new setup wizard. The new payment option allows businesses to pay $5 per user per month with no contractual commitment, as opposed to the previous plan of $50 per user per year (with a one-year contract). The original plan will still be available and will be renamed the Annual Plan.
Lowering the number of users per account isn’t new; in 2006 the Apps were free for all, in 2007 businesses of more than 200 had to pay. That number was cut in half a year later. Dave Girouard, Google’s president of enterprise told TechCrunch at the time, “there’s no reason to believe that the cap will continue to ‘move down’–we have no plans whatsoever to do that.”
The new setup wizard is the least exciting of the changes outlined in the announcement. Google claims the process to get started with Google Apps for Business will eventually be streamlined to a single registration page that will get you up and running in less than an hour.
Currently, the search giant’s productivity suite for companies offers Docs and Spreadsheets, but also includes such goodies as Google Video for Business, Google Groups for Business, and Microsoft Outlook & Blackberry interoperability that allows the use of other e-mail management programs. With guaranteed 99.9% uptime, it appears as though Google still offers an attractive package for enterprising companies.