Firstly I must start with saying how much I love Google Apps. I use it for my business and I recommend it to my client who have email requirements below 10 mailboxes. But many of my clients fall between the 10-150 mailboxes range and going for the paid solution at Rs.2000 per mailbox is too much.
You can now get VPS hosting solutions at INR 20,000 to 40,000 per year as compared to INR 20,000 for just 10 mailboxes on Google Apps. Although Google Apps is good, is it good enough to justify the huge disparity between hosted solutions. Google can make the standard excuse of reliability and stability being better than any hosting solution but that?s not strictly correct. Hosted email solutions are reliable as well although not plugged into the Google infrastrusture.
This is the point that irritates me the most. Google Apps requires all mailboxes to be transferred to paid or none at all. This all or none approach is weird as many organizations have low usage mailboxes or mailboxes for junior staff that do not require the entire range of services. It would go a long way if Google offered a split level plan where a portion of mailboxes can be paid with the remaining free for a single domain. This would open up a huge flood of income from existing free users as well as giving them a taste of the paid version.
Rediffmail Pro provides 5 mailboxes at INR 1200 per year. Yahoo Business mail is at INR 6000 per year for 10 mailboxes. Others too are significantly cheaper than Google Apps.
I have used and setup various email options for clients over the years and in my opinion the performance and service have been less than satisfactory. Here Google Apps has a huge advantage in terms of reliability and service. I rarely get a complaint on the Google Apps Free version so I imagine that the paid version must be superlative. But is this reason enough to pay a bomb for each mailbox? Google has a decidely huge advantage in terms of quality but has priced itself out of the market.
I know about some vendors who have signed up multiple domains and have added 10 Google apps free accounts to each. Although this creates a bit of disjointed mailing pattern, they do not mind as they get more than 10 mailboxes for free at the cost of just renewing domains which are quite cheap. I illustrate this as an example of what lengths people will go to use Google Apps simply due to the high affordability issue.
Probably realizing that their offering was not attracting the Indian small businesses due to price, Google tied up with various sub vendors to offer lots of bundled apps with the mailboxes to entice customers. Considering the primary objective of most users is mail at a good price, I don?t think would make much of a difference. Google, keep the apps, give us a good price.
Considering the all or nothing approach which restricts most small businesses to the Free version or go elsewhere I would appeal to the Google Apps team in India to provide a more flexible pricing scheme that would bring in new lakhs of customers.
It is argued that the kind of customers that cannot afford Google Apps for business are not the ones Google wants, then I have to ask, why give a Free version? The jump from Free to Paid is to big for most small businesses that too just for email which traditionally used to be free.