Children fight counter - Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay A few weeks after Google announced that it is to end the free access to Google Workspace, it appears to have reversed its decision with the launch of Google Workspace Essentials Starter Edition. However, this is targeted only at business users. It is likely a disappointment to those using the Google tools for personal use.

Google is rolling out Essentials to different regions in the coming weeks. It is already available in the US. Once signed up, users can collaborate with colleagues using Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Chat, Drive, and Meet. The notable absentee from this list is Gmail.

A counter to Zoho momentum?

The announcement comes shortly after Zoho revealed that it had seen a huge increase in user numbers for Zoho Workplace. Its collaboration, creation, and communication platform is significantly cheaper than the previous Google pricing change.

While Google appears to have changed its mind, the Zoho strategy remains consistent:

Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, Zoho Europe, commenting on the Google announcement, said: “There are several different market strategies chosen by office suite providers in the industry today. At Zoho we staunchly value and protect customer data and enforce a privacy-by-design model – this has been a firm policy since day one. This means we do not enable said data to be used for commercial purposes or monetised in any way.

“There is a continued shift we are observing surrounding trust, which is increasingly driving customer loyalty today and becoming a core deciding factor for selecting partners or vendors to work with.

“We support all shapes and sizes of businesses but recognise the importance of value and accessibility for all. Therefore we will continue to offer a free option for entry level customers with many of the functions that are most commonly demanded – another policy which has been in place since our inception. This is also deemed important from customers, which was proven from the market reaction to Google’s plans to remove its free access for legacy customers and so it is no surprise to see a reversal in its strategy.” 

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Google will hope that business users will switch to the Workspace Essentials version rather than an alternate, often cheaper solution. There are two things here. Will corporates want employees signing up for Workspace (GSuite)? And, if they do, how do they ensure that the security is linked back to their requirements?

Also, Zoho is offering a fuller solution that includes mail. Is Google failing to address the SME market with this announcement? The battle is not over, and yet Zoho does not appear to do anything to counter Google’s move. Dropping the free GSuite/Workspace for all may still have been a mistake.


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