Today at the Office 2.0 Conference, Zoho (more coverage) is announcing the new, paid business edition of its Web applications suite. Companies will be able to get user administration, company branding, and domain mapping (just like Google Apps for My domain), backup, pooled storage, and telephone support. When the product launches in October, it will cost about $40 per year per user.
Zoho will continue to have a free version, Zoho Personal, but some applications that are currently in it, like Zoho CRM, will move out of Personal and only be available in the Business edition. Other applications will become limited: Zoho Meeting, in the personal edition, will allow only five meetings a month.
This is a necessary step for Zoho. The company needs to make money from its ambitious suite, and businesses are more likely to pay than Ma and Pa Home User. It will take the company some time to gain the trust of business before they will run their mission-critical office applications on it, but Zoho has a decent suite of applications and this move represents a real business opportunity.
A suite for the education market will follow later this year.
Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu will be on my panel about new business platforms at 9 a.m. Friday.