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soup-naziGoogle quietly killed its free version of Google Apps for Business today, with a blog post saying that only the premium version would be available from now on, for $50 per user per year.

Google Apps “Standard” used to be available for businesses with under 50 users, providing email, calendaring, shared documents, spam, and virus filtering and up to seven gigabytes of space per user. The former premium version is now the new standard, coming with 25 gigabytes per user, 24/7 phone support, and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.

One caveat: Google says this change will have “no impact on our existing customers, including those using the free version,” which suggests that companies already using Google Apps for free will be grandfathered in.

This is unexpected but not shocking news: Businesses are used to paying for services, and nobody will cry for corporations that now need to pay for Google Apps alongside their Basecamp account.

The funny thing for me: There must be a corporate playbook for announcing bad or potentially negative news.

First comes the obligatory first paragraph with the genesis story and “how we came to today.” Then comes the “but the way we did it wasn’t perfect for users.” Then comes the change: good news first, bad news second, but both just announced without any color or apology. Finally, comes the reason why this is a actually a good thing, followed occasionally by the cherry on top: some other related piece of good news.

Google followed it to the T, even adding the good but entirely unrelated news that Google Apps for Education is still free for schools and universities.

The reason this is actually a good thing?

“With focus we’ll be able to do even more for our business customers. We’re excited about the opportunity to push Google Apps further so our customers can do what matters most to them – whether that’s scooping ice cream, changing the face of healthcare, or contributing to lifelong learning.”

Wow. I feel great. Don’t you?

photo credit: cyOFdevelin fame via photopin cc

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