Google has announced a big change to Google Apps for Business. From now, the Google Apps for Business is no longer available for free for new customers. That means existing Business customers can still continue using the service without paying any fee whereas new customers will have to pay $50 per user each year.
There will be no change to other products like Google Apps for Education and Google Apps for Government. Google Apps for Education will still be offered for free to schools and universities while the pricing for Government is $50 per user each year. Personal Google Account will not be affected and you still can use Gmail, Google Drive and other apps for free.
Therefore, this change has impacts on Google Apps for Business only. Google explained reasons behind this decision, that they want to simplify offerings for Business and improve user experience, including 24/7 phone support, 25GB inbox and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. 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.(Google)
This change makes sense to me because the price is reasonable and if you have a business, you can’t rely on an unsupported service. Greg D’Alesandre, Senior Product Manager of Google App Engine, brought us good news as the Google Apps Standard is still available for free through the App Engine Admin Console. However, it has the limit to only 1 user per account. The free version of Google Apps has become more limited by time. Google allowed the number of users at 100 when it is first launched, then it started dropping to 50, 10 and now only 1 single user. Anyways, a free Google Apps Standard account is still good enough for a lot of users as they just want to create a Gmail account with custom domains.
Update 2019: Now you can no longer create a free account on appengine.google.com. If you decide to use the service, you can visit this website as it is offering G Suite free days and promo code of 20% discount for the first year.
Following is the step-by-step guide on how to get your free Google Apps account for single user.
1. Login to your personal Google account at http://appengine.google.com/
2. Verify your account with phone number.
3. After verification, you will see the screen to create an application. Just get any name and fill in the textbox.
4. Then you will see your application registered successfully. Go to Dashboard -> Application Settings, find the Domain Setup section like the screenshot below, choose Add Domain.
5. On the next step, don’t care about the left side. Read the Note and you will see the link to Sign up for Google Apps Standard.
6. Now, you will see the page to setup your account. Just fill in appropriate information to create a Google Apps account for free.
All done. If you are wondering why I didn’t post just the link to this Setup Page, it is because it will not work. You have to follow exact steps like mentioned above.
Let me know if you have any issue registering for a free Google Apps account. If you have another solution, share with us.
Update 1: Some comments below confirmed that there is a workaround to get more users for your Google Apps account. You can follow the guide above, upgrade to trial, add more users and finally cancel the subscription. Then, you will have a free account with up to 10 users. It’s worth trying.
Update 2: It seems like the workaround is no longer working and both Google and Microsoft ended the free service and migrated to the new Google G Suite service. If you need a free domain email, you can use other email hosting services like Zoho. Check out my guide to set up custom email for your domain with Zoho Mail here.