As part of an effort to help small and medium sized enterprises in India, Google today announced it would slash the cost of its Google Apps for Business suite in the country by almost half.

Citing the miniscule percentage of small businesses in the country that are online – just 1 percent of 47 million - Google has committed itself to offering its business services to the myriad of up-and-coming enterprises at a reduced price.

Access to the Google Apps for Business suite formerly cost INR 2700 (about $48.73) at an annual rate and INR 270 ($4.87) at a monthly rate, Indian businesses can now use the services for INR 1500 at an annual rate (about $27.07) or for INR 150 (about $2.70) at a monthly rate. The price drop marks a decrease of about 45 percent.

With the reduction in cost, millions of Indian businesses can now more easily access web mail, calendars, cloud storage, and video chat, and other basic functions that are essential to running a business online in this day and age. Even though internet access isn’t widespread in some parts of India,

“By making Google Apps more affordable, we hope more small businesses in India will be able to access a business-ready package of communication and collaboration tools and reap the benefits of working in the cloud,” says Judy Chang, a representative for Google Apps for Business.

Considering the how the high cost of Microsoft Office often leads to counterfeits and piracy in rising Asian nations, an affordable Google Apps for Business suite might prove a preferable alternative for those in India who recognize the benefits of using legitimate software.

The move might seem a little counterintuitive to some observers, as last year Google announced it had formally ended free access to Google Apps. By lowering the cost of the service in emerging economies, however, Google can provide invaluable assistance to emerging economies, while continuing to reap a sizable, if reduced, financial benefit.

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