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Google to start charging small businesses for web applications

Google has renounced free access to its range of productivity applications for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Effected companies will now be required to pay the same premium rates as larger enterprises.

Pricing is set at $50 (£31) per user, per year, with individual consumers still being able to gain access to free versions of certain apps including Gmail. However, the use of a business account will fall under the revised plan.

This new price policy has been instituted as a means of expanding its revenue streams beyond the realm of advertising, thereby allowing the Internet firm to focus on providing better value experiences for its customers.

“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,” said Google Apps director of product management, Clay Bavor.

The Google apps facility launched in 2006 and currently has a user base some 5 million strong, according to Google – a figure that does not differentiate between free and business users.