Discontinuing Services The Right Way

I received an email from Google last week. The company is discontinuing the free version of Google Apps for Business. When it started Google Apps for Business offered 50 free accounts before you had to pay. Last year that changed to 10. Now there is no free tier beyond a trial. Here’s the email:

Hello from Google,

Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.

Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.

Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.

You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.

Thank you for using Google Apps.

Clay Bavor
Director, Google Apps

I want to commend Google for making this change the right way. First, they aren’t forcing anyone to upgrade. Second, our current plan is grandfathered in, meaning as long as we keep it we get the same service for the same low (free) price. When introducing new products or needing to make substantial changes, this is the way to do it.

I’ve made this mistake before. Before we introduced powerOne for iOS we had originally developed a product called FastFigures. When we decided to discontinue it and move to powerOne, we removed it from the app store, making it impossible for those that already bought to re-download. The right way to do this, in those days, would have been to leave FastFigures in the store and introduce powerOne as a product. We reversed ourselves but by then the damage had been done. In the future I hope we will be more considerate.