Before Google kills free G Suite accounts, why not offer a family email plan?

Some longtime Google users are facing a difficult transition. In the early days of Google’s business-focused productivity service, first called “Google Apps for your domain”, then “G Suite” and now “Google Workspace”, Google offered domain-branded “professional” Google Accounts for free. . From 2006 to 2012, users could create a free Google Apps/G Suite account with a custom domain, so their email ended with a domain they owned, instead of “”. In January, Google announced a significant policy change and told these users they had to start paying standard business pricing for their Google accounts or face account termination. It’s an unfair pull for users who created a free account years ago with no warning that Google might eventually charge for it. These people are in deep, with all the data, emails and purchases stored in these accounts, and it looks like data extortion to suddenly tell them to pay or lose it all.

Google then relented somewhat and offered a vague escape hatch option, promising that one day these “Legacy G Suite” users could transfer their data and purchases to a free consumer Gmail account, with the implementation beware that Google will no longer host their custom domain email. . Many of the important specific details of this transition plan are not yet public, but this is specific is the payment and account closure deadline, and users just have to wave in the breeze as their anxiety grows.

A key problem is that in fact Google stopped by offering custom domain email to consumers, and now those Legacy G Suite users don’t have an obvious upgrade path. In the past, there was nothing wrong with using Google Apps/G Suite for non-commercial purposes, and Google even encouraged it. Just look at the original Google Apps blog post for your domain, which states that Google launched the service after “listening to feedback from thousands of small businesses, K-12 schools, nonprofits , universities, even families with their own websites.” Google encouraged families to use it, and now it’s telling those families they’re businesses.

My question is, why does it have to be so hard? Here’s an idea: offer a Google Workspace (or Google One) “family plan” that supports a custom domain at a reasonable price for consumers. It’s not a crazy idea because all of Google’s competitors already offer it. In my conversations with various people affected by the policy change, free G Suite users aren’t necessarily upset about paying for a custom email domain. Yet they are often non-enterprise and unwilling to pay business rates for G Suite.

Hey Google, copy Microsoft's pricing plans.
Enlarge / Hey Google, copy Microsoft’s pricing plans.

Microsoft / Ron Amadeo

Let’s compare what Google offers to the competition. Google Workspace’s closest competitor is Office 365, and in addition to commercial offerings, Microsoft offers a “Microsoft 365 Family” plan. It’s $100 a year for a family of six. It has 1TB of cloud storage per user, a 50GB inbox, access to all Microsoft Office apps, and most importantly, custom domain email accounts. Even using the cheapest “Business Starter” plan, Google Workspace costs $6 per month per user. If we match Microsoft’s one-year, six-user plan, that’s $432 per year, and that’s only with 30GB of cloud storage per user. With 2TB of cloud storage per user, the top tier is $12 per user, per month, or $864 per year.

Apple’s comparable product is the iCloud+ subscription, which also offers custom domain email support, starting at $1 per user per month. That’s six times less than what Google charges, and Apple offers 20 GB more per user, or 50 GB in total. For six people, that would be $72 per year, while Google would charge $432 per year for a lower storage tier.

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