NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As a direct response marketing pioneer and search engine enthusiast, Rich Gorman has made no secret of his admiration for Google—but in a new statement to the press, Gorman says that Google has not exactly been treating businesses and brands well in 2012. In his new statement, the marketing guru comments on a recent story from TechCrunch, which reports that Google's once-free "Google Apps for Business" will soon be available through paid subscription only. According to Gorman, this move is sadly unsurprising, and while it may or may not make good business sense for Google, Gorman says the search giant is not doing business owners any favors.
"The news that Google's suite of business apps will now be available to paying subscribers only follows a fairly disappointing trend among Google's services," says Gorman. He points to another event from earlier this year, in which Google announced that its merchant listings would now be given on a "pay-to-play" basis only. "Once upon a time, businesses had an easy time getting listed for Google Shopping results, but, as of this year, only the ones that pay a fee get their listings in front of consumers," Gorman explains. "Google is developing a nasty habit of getting businesses used to certain, free services, and then essentially pulling the rug out from under them."
The same is true with the Google Apps announcement, Gorman says. "At least in this case, businesses that are already using the free apps are allowed to continue using them, for free," he notes. "New businesses and startups that want to make use of these tremendous, foundational features are out of luck, however; they will have to pony up for the full price of a Google Business membership."
The TechCrunch report notes that the Google Apps for Businesses features include an entire suite of basic functions, including Gmail accounts, collaborative documents, and Google's cloud-based storage service, Drive. These features are all available to individuals who sign up for Google accounts, and, until now, they have been available for businesses, as well. Meanwhile, companies that wish for added features, such as 24/7 phone support, have had the option of signing up for a Premium membership, which costs $50 per individual user per year.
Now, the Premium membership is the only option available to companies, with the free suite of apps offered to individuals only. Gorman says that, while the price tag is relatively small, the principle of the thing is frustrating—and Google's rationale is a little feeble.
"Google has said that this decision was made with business owners in mind," Gorman explains. "According to Google, businesses quickly exhaust the basic features of the free apps, and find themselves in need of a much broader spectrum of services. This may be true in many cases, but, for very small businesses and start-ups, it is simply difficult to understand how the free apps suite would not prove a viable and cost-effective option."
Google has not announced any comparable changes to its Education and Government apps services; Education accounts are still free, and Government accounts have always come with the $50 membership fee attached.
As for what this means for Google more broadly, Gorman says it depends on how far this recent trend continues. "It seems unlikely that many businesses will raise too much fuss over being asked to pay $50, especially when they do receive a few more features," he explains. "The question is whether Google will continue to do away with all of its free business features, which certainly seems to be where it is headed. This might have a real, negative impact on Google's rather remarkable brand goodwill."
Rich Gorman is a direct response marketing pioneer, currently active on Google+.
Rich Gorman is an online trailblazer, a serial entrepreneur, and a mover and shaker in the direct response marketing industry. His brand, Direct Response, is one of the biggest names in the affiliate marketing arena, and, through his Direct Response blog, he writes prolifically about the trends shaping the field. Through Direct Response, Gorman gives away millions of dollars in trade secrets and insider information, all as a part of his zeal for delivering value to other companies and industry professionals.
SOURCE Rich Gorman