Bundles have become the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of tech giants looking to retain existing customers and attract new ones - with Amazon Prime being, well, the prime example.
The company has announced it will give a free VPN - VPN by Google One (opens in new tab) - to anyone that subscribes to its Google One 2TB plan. The free VPN will first reach US-based Android users, before expanding to other territories (Canada, Australia, Germany and UK) and platforms (iOS, Windows and Mac) in the coming months.
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Free VPN with a catch
At $99.99 per year, the 2TB offer comes with a number of extras, including Google Drive (opens in new tab) cloud storage (opens in new tab), Gmail (opens in new tab), Google Photos (opens in new tab), Google Workspace (opens in new tab), 10% back in Google Store rewards and the ability to share the plan with up to five additional people.
You should also be able to use a device as a hotspot (opens in new tab), which would allow even more devices to be serviced by the VPN, enabled via a slider on the Google One app.
Google promises never to log “your network traffic or IP”, but minimal logging may take place to ensure quality of service (which is something all VPN providers usually do).
As you might expect, Google shunned both OpenVPN and Wireguard in favor of its own proprietary protocol (to ensure a high throughput while minimizing battery consumption), although it may embrace other protocols further down the line.
In a bid to remain transparent, Google has open sourced the code that runs on a user’s device and promised to open source the server-side user authentication mechanism. The company will also publish the results of a third party audit, which is already taking place.
Competitors to catch up soon
So, what’s next? We expect Apple (with Apple One (opens in new tab)), Amazon (with Prime (opens in new tab)) and Microsoft (with Microsoft 365 (opens in new tab)) to follow Google with their own VPN solutions. After all, given they own hundreds of thousands of server racks, it’s not as if rolling out VPN for their users will cost millions.
Other VPN providers will be thrilled that Google is lending its legitimacy to the VPN cause, growing the size of the VPN pie; a market that is already worth tens of billions of dollars.
While the likes of ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), NordVPN (opens in new tab) or Hotspotshield (opens in new tab) are unlikely to be bothered by Google’s announcement, we suspect it will further accelerate the consolidation we’ve started to see in the market.
Note, the offer is only valid for those who have Gmail.com accounts. If you use your own domain name (opens in new tab), you won’t be able to access Google One, nor the VPN. The same goes for Google Workspace users, who won’t receive a free VPN anytime soon.
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