Is it illegally anticompetitive for Google to give schools Google Apps for free?

Today a French court ruled that Google has broken the law by providing the Google Maps API for free. While this may seem like an extreme ruling it is based on the fact that Google used to offer the service for free then began charging once all of their competition had been beaten into submission. I wonder if Google are trying to do the same with schools and Google Apps?

Microsoft and Google have been caught out doing predatory pricing on quite a few occasions in the past. Essentially predatory pricing is where you provide a service for free then after a period of time (Usually once all of your competitors have been destroyed) you start charging for this service. Companies accomplish this “scam” by providing propriety software, propriety software is basically software that can only be provided by one company. I am constantly warning the schools of the risks of investing in propriety standards and I’m sure that nearly all of my readers are tired of me beating on this drum… In this case I think the court actually got it wrong.

Google Docs doesn’t thwart our ability to develop PrimaryPad, PrimaryBlogger or SchoolEmail further, it’s obviously that Google Docs does affect our bottom line but we develop PrimaryPad because we believe in our products and in we know that our contributions towards Etherpad and an open standard for collaborative writing on the web will ultimately be the winner of the war. Remember folks.. Good customer service and open standards always win.

One thought on “Is it illegally anticompetitive for Google to give schools Google Apps for free?

  1. Hi there very interesting post. As a Google Apps Education partner and the developer of CourseDirector LMS/VLE in the Google Apps Marketplace I get asked this question all the time. My strong opinion is that Google Apps for Education will remain free for existing schools and colleges for the reason that the bad will they would generate by starting to charge schools would be phenomenal, and as Universities in general are early technology adopters and very influential it would be a PR nightmare. The value to Google in my opinion is that students get used to working on the Google Apps environment and will them want to take this experience into the workspace.

    On the different point of if Google could start charging for new schools I guess it is possible, although I am sure this is not on the agenda for the near future.

    Primary pad looks like a great App by the way.

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