On the 10th anniversary of its beta phase, Google is killing its popular product. Concerned users are shouting it from the electronic rooftops faster than Google can send out notification emails: After 10 years in beta, the end of Google Cloud Print is near.

Google’s statement on the Google Support website and the email sent to GSuite users states that Google is turning off Google Cloud Print on December 31, 2020. At that time, all devices and applications that use Google’s cloud print service will no longer be able to do so.

Even though it never left the beta stage, Google Cloud Print is a popular and much-used service among home users, educational institutions and corporations. Google Cloud Printing does exactly what users expect of such a solution – it’s a simple way to print to printers regardless of device or location. That’s the main reason nearly every printer manufacturer supports Google Cloud Print.

Is cloud printing dead? The short answer: no. The need for cloud printing is alive and well.

The record-setting length of Google’s beta period shows that printing is, unfortunately, all but simple. The number of printers, applications and operating systems are far too expansive to try solve cloud printing on the side. If it had fit into Google’s business model, the project had probably received more resources and energy from Google. However, a quick and easy print process offers far too little user interaction to give Google a chance to increase the reach of its advertising.

Killing off the cloud print solution now might even pay off for Google. After all, Google has a vested interest in bringing as many users as possible to its devices and solutions, especially GSuite. Chromebooks have been very successful in the education sector and helped strengthen Google’s profile. A larger market share in the commercial space would be a logical next step. Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows Virtual Desktop might be an unexpected help in that quest.

But, let’s not kid ourselves. Google Cloud Print can’t live up to enterprise expectations. The management options are too limited for the platform and insufficient printing capabilities quickly become a showstopper in enterprise deployments. Instead of disappointing with insufficient solutions, pointing to third-party experts could be just the right move.

 The time is right for enterprise cloud printing

Organizations have just begun to embrace cloud printing. After all, printing is usually not the first IT service companies think about – especially when planning to move to the cloud. The printer will naturally always have to be on-premises, while everything else about printing can be made drastically more efficient by moving it to the cloud.

More and more organizations have realized this, but are placing understandably high demands on cloud printing solutions. To meet these requirements, Google would have had to invest a lot of resources. By withdrawing from the space, Google is opening up space for alternative solutions and innovations that no longer have to compare their considerable value-add to a free feature. Neither a very aggressive pricing strategy nor an elaborate online strategy would have been a match for the omnipresent free solution.

This market dynamic also explains the somewhat spare selection of alternative solutions. Those interested in cloud printing should carefully evaluate the available solutions and consider waiting until vendors had time to seize their new opportunities.

One option is native printing. Google’s support site recommends using the improved native print capabilities of Android and Chromebooks. While this theoretically an option, it won’t offer the flexibility we’re used to from cloud printing.

There are also a number of cloud-based alternatives, and in fact, Google states that it would support its users with migrations to third-party solutions.

While Google has given users a year-long heads up, it’s not a lot of time for organizations to react. The good news is that solid alternative solutions do exist and organizations should be excited that Google is letting professional, innovative solutions take center stage. The era of free cloud services might be coming to a close, but organizations will have innovative, committed solutions providers at their side.

Henning Volkmer drives the execution of ThinPrint Inc.’s strategy as an expert in print management. A cloud printing innovator and launch partner for Windows Virtual Desktop, ThinPrint is the technology leader for fully processing print jobs in its ezeep cloud without having to rely on on-premises printer drivers. He has established a broad technological background and has been at the forefront of technology trends for more than two decades.