In case you missed it this week, Google is killing off the free edition of Google Apps/G-Suite/Workspace. The short version is that you need to convert to a paid plan by May 1, 2022. If you don’t you’re going to lose everything in July. The initial offering of the free tier was back in 2006 and the free plan hasn’t been available since 2012. I suppose a decade is a long time to enjoy custom email but I’m still a bit miffed at the decision.
Value Added, Value Lost
It’s pretty easy to see that the free version of Workspace was designed to encourage people to use it and then upgrade to a paid account to gain more features. As time wore on Google realized that people were taking advantage of having a full suite of 50 accounts and never moving, which is why 2012 was the original cutoff date. Now there has been some other change that has forced their hand into dropping the plan entirely.
I won’t speculate about what’s happening because I’m sure it’s complex and tied to ad revenue and privacy restrictions that people are implementing that is reducing the value of the data Google has been mining for years. However, I can tell you that the value of what they’re offering with their entry-level business plan isn’t as valuable as they might think.
The cheapest Google Workspace plan available is $6 per user per month. It covers the email and custom domain that was the biggest attraction. It also has a whole host of other features:
- Google Meet, which I never use when Zoom/Webex/Teams exist
- Google Drive, which is somewhat appealing except for when no one wants to use Docs or Sheets and Dropbox is practically a standard and still free
- Chat, which makes me laugh because it’s probably the next thing to get killed off in favor of some other messaging platform that will get abandoned in six months
Essentially, Google is hoping to convince me to pay for their service that has been free this entire time by giving me things I don’t use now and probably won’t use in the future? Not exactly a good selling model.
I’ve heard there is a plan for trying to give loyal customers a discount for the first year of service to ease the transition but that’s not going to cut it for most. Based on the comments I’ve seen most people are upset that they have purchases from Google tied to an account they can’t transfer away from as well as the possibility that whatever happens next is going to be shut down anyway. I mean, Killed by Google is starting to look like a massive graveyard at this point.
I’m willing to concede at this point that the free tier of Google Workspace is gone and won’t be coming back. What I’m not ready to give in on is the model that you’re forcing me to pay for and use other services because you have a target revenue number to hit and you keep throwing useless stuff in to make it seem valuable. You’re not transitioning us to a new model. You’re ramming the existing one down our throats because you need users for those other services that are paying.
Want to extend some goodwill to the community? Offer us a solution that gives us what we want for a reasonable pricing model? How about email without video chat and Drive for $3 per month per user? How about allowing me to cut out the junk and reduce my spend. How about giving me something with other value based on how I use your service and not how you think I should be using it?
I realize I’m just tilting at windmills in this whole mess but It’s frustrating. I’m totally prepared to never see a resolution to this issue because Google has decided it’s time to kill it off. Yes, I got a decade of free email hosting out of the deal. I got a lot of value for what I invested. I even realize that Google can’t keep things free forever. I just wish there was a way for me to pay them for what I want and not have to pay more for things that are useless to me. Technology marches on and new models always supplant old ones. The only constant is change. But change is something we should be able to process and accept. Not have it forced upon us to ensure someone is using Google Meet.