Is this the end of Free Version of Google Apps?

Google Apps for Business

Just recently I received an email from Google titled “Update on changes to Google Apps“. Just like any other email I always receive from Google, I assumed its probably new features being added on Google Apps. But my exicitement was crushed to see that it was an announcement on limitation on the number of users (10 to be exact!) that one can register under a domain name.

According to TechCrunch, Google Apps is a web-based office suite offering businesses email, calendar, document creation, and collaboration functionality.

In that same email, Google mentions that the changes won’t affect the ‘existing Google Apps users’ which brought back a little 🙂 since am an existing user! However, I started wondering what this means to future Google Apps users!

Larry Page, CEO GoogleWell since Larry Page took over as CEO of Google this year, he noticed that Google Apps wasn’t bring enough revenues to his company. Even though Google made a profit of $29 Billion last year. Page wants to attract more ‘small businesses’ with the new pricing plan that has been set for Google Apps users. Google will be charging $5 per user, per month plan in a bid to lure more small businesses in using Google Apps for Business. This will take effect on May 10, 2011.

This will undoubtedly bring competition to Microsoft Exchange which provides e-mail-based collaborative communications server for businesses. Microsoft is currently offering $6 per user per month.

Do you think the new charges will pay off for Google and are you will to pay for its Google Apps services?