Until recently, Google Apps had three options for new accounts: Basic, Business, and Education. Many small businesses were using the Basic version, which offered Google Apps products at no charge. At the end of 2012, Google discontinued its Basic version. Although current users would be able to continue using the Basic version at no cost, businesses signing up now would need to pay $50 per user per year with the Business version. This new announcement led many business owners to look for alternatives. Here are a few options:
Alternative for Those Who Still Want to Use Google Apps
If you’re already using a free version of Google Apps, you’re grandfathered in at this point. So instead of signing of up for a new domain account, consider adding a domain to your existing account. You have the choice of adding an alias or a separate domain. The separate domain option is for two unrelated domains with two unrelated accounts. An alias domain will have the same users and set up as your main domain.
To do this, log into your Google Apps account. Click “Domain settings” on the toolbar and then click “Domain names.” Click “Add a domain or a domain alias” and follow the prompts. You’ll be asked to verify ownership of the domain just as you did when you set up your first one with Google Apps.
Alternative for Those Who a Little More Functionality
For some business owners, the price was what put Google Apps over the top. You don’t necessarily mind paying for business hosting but if you do, you want more functionality. If this is the case for you, consider using Microsoft Office 365, a veteran in business services game. This may be particularly attractive if you and your employees already use desktop Microsoft products, like Word or Excel. This option of Office 365 comes with desktop and web versions of these traditional business programs. You also get chat and conference calling powered by the premium version of Skype.
Depending on what you need, there are five plans with varying degrees of features and pricing. Pricing ranges from $4 a month for hosted email to $22 for midsized enterprise plans.
Alternative for Those Who Just Want Free
You may already be familiar with Zoho products because many of them integrate with Google Apps. Zoho’s list of small business productivity products is very impressive. They’ve got all the usual players like a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a calendar. But they’ve also got a customer service program, a small business accounting program, and an human resource management tool. All of the product integrate seamlessly and generally play well with others programs, such as those from Microsoft and Google.
What email solution do you use for your business?