Google Apps launched five years ago. Since then, we’ve spoken with many of our more than three million customers about how we can better serve them. Small businesses in particular often ask us to make Apps easier to adopt and manage. Today we’re announcing several upcoming changes designed to address those requests.
New flexible billing options
Small businesses operate in dynamic environments – everything from workforce size to cash flow can change overnight – and we want our billing options to better support this reality. So we’re making two improvements to our billing programs in the next few weeks to ensure that Google Apps works across businesses.

First, for customers who sign up online we’re adding the Flexible Plan, a new $5 per user per month pricing option which requires no contractual commitment – one of the most flexible plans in the industry today. With this plan, businesses can add or remove users as necessary and will automatically be billed for the proper amount. We’ll continue to offer the current pricing option – $50 per user per year with a one-year commitment – as the Annual Plan.

Second, we’re eliminating upfront payments for new customers to make it easier for them to manage their cash flow. Whether they choose the Flexible or Annual Plan, customers will pay at the end of each month. We’ll also begin to offer direct debit in the US, UK, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain to make payment even easier.

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll also make these billing options available to our many reseller partners.

Change to Google Apps user limit
Starting on May 10, new organizations (excluding schools and non-profits) with more than 10 users will need to sign up for our paid service, Google Apps for Business, which offers valuable features designed for businesses – customer support, more generous storage limits, a 99.9% SLA, and more. This change will allow us to deliver on the expectations of our small business customers and invest in new features that will help them succeed.

Only new customers will be impacted; existing Google Apps customers can expand beyond 10 users (up to a maximum of 50) at no additional charge, and we’ll continue to offer Google Apps for free to groups with 10 users or fewer. Schools and non-profits that qualify for Google Apps for Education will not be affected.

Fewer steps to get started
Two businesses sign up for Google Apps every minute, and we want to get them up and running as quickly as possible. Using our new “setup wizard,” most customers are now able to complete setup in under one hour – less than the average time people spend commuting to and from work each day. And in a few weeks we will streamline this process even further, by launching a single sign-up page that lets businesses create an account in minutes without even pulling out a credit card.

We hope these improvements will encourage more businesses to adopt Google Apps for Business. And there’s a lot more to come: we’ve already launched 57 feature improvements this year – including Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, discussions in Google Docs, and an improved control panel for business users – and we’ll continue to provide the innovation our customers expect. We look forward to helping more businesses flourish in the months and years to come.

Posted by: Hunter Middleton, Google Apps Product Team