Historically, Google has looked at absolutely everything it does besides search as a loss leader. Its search lead has been so unassailable, and so profitable, that it’s been willing to give away a whole lot of other services in order to keep that goose laying golden eggs.
This is a major move toward making a profit off of Apps. The Wall Street Journal points out that Google already makes about $1 bn from Apps a year, even if the majority of its customers use it for free. With enough businesses reliant on Apps for basic services, coughing up $50 per user per year won’t be such an oppressive expense.
This should be troubling for Microsoft, which is in a precarious position with its new operating system and lackluster tablet sales. Businesses are the backbone of Microsoft’s software empire – without them, it would be in serious trouble.