Aug 2, 2009

Money for Nothin and Google Apps for Free

Google Apps logo ring of happinessImage by adria.richards via Flickr

Somewhere around begining of 2009, Google stopped its free version of Google Apps. In my view this was one product which really helped any new startup or small company to get bootstrapped with email and other communication tools in a matter of hours. It did receive some backlash for taking such a step. But in my view as they have their popular email services (gmail) free, It is ok to charge people to have a company email account.

In one of their blog (in 2008) google did mention that it was difficult to find the free service but asserted that there is one. Later when they decided to remove even that option in the Google Apps page, the whole world was furious at them. But I guess they forgot to tell their Google Appengine team that Google Apps was no longer free.

So here is a step by step process of setting up your free Google Apps account. I have used this method to setup a free Google Apps account twice for my friends so I believe this method is valid today. However I cannot guarantee in future that this method will work. In case it works, do drop me a mail and a cheque for 50$ for saving you some precious money.

  1. Head straight to to create a free Appengines account. Yeah I know you are not interested in creating an application on appengine, and you don't have to. This is just a back door to your free Google Apps account.
  2. After logging in with your gmail account, create a new appengine application. Give it any name. We are not going to use this name anyways.
  3. Once you are in the dashboard of your new what-you-wanna-call-it application go to versions link under Administration.
  4. Click on the 'Add Domain' button that you see in this page. This will take you to a page where you will see a link 'Sign up for google apps'. This link takes you to a Google Apps signup page, which is the free version of Google Apps and not the Premium one.
  5. You really think there is another step after creating your brand new free Google Apps account? Yes there is. Did you forget about writing me a cheque for 50$?
So Google Apps is still free Mr. Arrington. They have just made it a little difficult for you to find it. And guess what there is even simpler way than the one mentioned above.

I've got Binged

Call me a narcissist if you will, but I do have a fetish to keep looking up my name in google for quite some time. Ever since I knew about google (1999), I've been keying in 'mayank sharma' in it to know where I stand in in the internet. For some reason my page at btech96 website of IITD always used to figure #2 or #3.

In fact one of my secret dream is to get slash-dotted once. But I believe that probability of getting slash-dotted is inversely proportional to number of years you've been out of your college. So I don't really think I'll be slash-dotted ever.

But I never really expected Bing to through up this blog of mine as the first result when searched for me. I had my 30 seconds of fame moment. I was pleasantly surprised as the last blog post was done in March 2006. That is a really long time ago. But still it was the number #1 result. Infact the last blog post contained about 20 odd spam comments which I had to immediately delete once I realized that importance of this blog ;).

It then occured to me that I should probably revive my old hobby of blogging. I have revived it a multiple times, but the urge died down soon after a post. Let's see how long it lasts this time. By the way for the record, this blog appears #3 in Google Search, and my photograph, which I took almost 10 years ago at 2 in the morning sitting in front of an SGI machine wondering what to do, ranks #1 :-). And my btech96's page figures #4. So watch out Geekbodhy for a stiff competition from me.

I have been using google and bing together for some time to see the quality of results being shown, and my initial verdict is that you cannot quite rule out bing as you did msn search earlier. You do get some good results from bing sometimes. The core of google search engine (PageRanking) has really been too good till now. A lot of search companies tried semantic search to get context into the user's search queries and hoped that they will serve better results to the user. But inspite of their good algo's they have not really been able to challenge Google's simple PageRank.

But now as Internet matures into web 2.0 as we call it, I think the dynamics of content is changing quite rapidly. Social networking today helps you build a huge network and hence you do get a lot of inbound links. In such a scenario I do not know how well the PageRanking algo will perform.

The recent Microsoft-Yahoo deal has already provided about 35% of market share to Bing. If they can continue to provide good search results in this new world, they really might just give Google a stiff competition in the near future.