Google Pushing Apps Freeloaders To Pay Up (GOOG)

Google is still having a hard time pursuading companies to sign up for its paid Google Apps service, a source told us earlier this month. As a result, Google’s (GOOG) Apps business is still a tiny money maker.

So how does Google plan to build its paid user base? By gradually — but significantly — making its free Apps service available to only the smallest of businesses.

Sharp-eyed TechCrunch proprietor Michael Arrington noticed that Google keeps shrinking the number of user accounts per domain that it’ll allow new free accounts to use. It’s currently 50 accounts per domain, down recently from 100; before that, 200; before that, unlimited.

Google is also making it harder to find the free version on the Google Apps sign-up page. You need to find the small text link “Compare to Standard Edition” to sign up.

That could help Google boost its Apps revenue, but it’s still not likely to make up a significant portion of Google’s overall sales any time soon.

Perhaps more important: It’s still a big threat to Microsoft — it will still help disrupt more expensive email/docs/collaboration services, such as Microsoft’s (MSFT) Exchange, Office, etc.

See Also:
The Google Apps Revenue Myth: $10mm In 2009
Google Finally Hiring Salespeople To Sell Google Apps
Microsoft: Google Apps No Threat

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