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Google Apps for Business cost decline to help Indian SMBs harness cloud

Shaleen Sinha

Google India has reduced Google Apps for Businesscosts, making its services even more affordable and easier for Indian small- and medium-sized businesses to switch to cloud for financial and productivity

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The company recently announced about a 45% drop in the price of its Google Apps Web-based software suite for Indian businesses.

"The Internet not only provides SMBs [small- and medium-sized businesses] with a way to promote their services through websites and digital media, it also gives them access to secure and flexible cloud-based communication and collaboration tools," said Judy Chang, product manager for Google Apps for Business, in an announcement made in the Google India Official Blog.

New and existing customers based in India will now have to pay INR 150 rather than INR 270 per user per month if they're on the Flexible Plan, and INR 1500 per user per year for those on the Annual Plan, previously priced at INR 2700.

According to Google, approximately 1% of the 47 million Indian small businesses use Google Apps, but the cost might make it an attractive alternative to competitors like Microsoft and Zoho, even though Internet access is not that prevalent in many parts of the country.

"Doing business in India is very different as compared to doing business globally," said Ishank Joshi, co-founder of Nurture Talent Academy, an institute for training entrepreneurs and mentoring startups. "The biggest challenge for early stage entrepreneurs is the license fees for some software that is essential for running a business online in this age. Lowering the prices makes Google Apps suite a more [likely] consideration among businesses," Joshi said.

Google Apps offers webmail, calendars, cloud storage and video meetings through products like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Hangouts.

Indian Web portal for youth opportunities, LetMeKnow, uses Google Apps. "We use Gmail extensively because it offers an affordable and reliable email solution with high storage," said Aashish Sawhney, CEO at LetMeKnow. "Along with that we take advantage of Drive, Analytics, Calendar and other services that provide real-time collaboration with access to information through multiple devices on the go and improve work-flow processes, thereby increasing productivity in an organisation where collaboration plays a huge role."

Another Google Apps user is Epitome Travel Solutions, a travel services provider based in New Delhi. It entered the market in 2011 and now has offices in five major cities across India and 300 employees.

Vishwajeet Singh, chief information officer at Epitome Travel Solutions, said: "While looking for an email solution we did a fairly good study on the cost, reliability, features, scalability, etc. We finally decided to hook onto Google as our mailing platform." Singh said it's very important that it's user-friendly. "While using Gmail, we felt as an expert user from day one. It adds to your productivity as well by collaborating and working simultaneously in an efficient manner.

"… A new considerably lower price would attract most of the organizations in India, which has always been a price-sensitive market," Singh said.