This post is part of a series about why it’s time for you to get your Google+ on, which is also an excerpt from something I’ve been working on for subscribers and clients about how to do so effectively. Here’s part one of the public version, which has a link to all the articles published so far.
I think sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have so many resources available for individuals and for business for free. If you’re old school like me, you remember how much money you used to spend to travel for a meeting that you just couldn’t have over the phone.
Whether it was a car trip to your own office on a day you’d be otherwise off, or flying across the country and staying overnight in a hotel, we all save a LOT of money traveling to meetings by having teleconferences, video conferences, webinars (instead of mini-conferences) or using any of the above as part of our lead generation systems.
Skype Led the Video Call Charge- But is it dying?
There was a time when we all though Skype was THE video conferencing answer. If you have a username, person to person calls are free. On their premium plan, you can bring in up to ten people. Once the platform stabilized years ago and calls became consistent, it was the best game in town for a long time.
However, after a time there were claims that the platform had begun a long, slow decline. Some people trace the problems to Microsoft’s ownership of the company, others say it was the Facebook integration that turned them off back in 2011. People who stayed then are now becoming inactive in droves it seems like, since Skype changed its Desktop API integration.
Facetime Is Great And Stable – if you own the hardware
One of the alternatives is Apple’s Facetime, but only if you don’t need to talk to multiple people at once.
You can have a video call with anyone else who had a Facetime account, on whatever Apple device that was compatible. but that is the other problem. You need to have both Apple hardware and software to use it. Which brings us to Android and Google Plus.
Like Skype and Apple, you need to have an account in order to use the Google+ video feature Google Hangouts, which is now also available to Android users as a replacement app for Google Talk. In another one of Google’s forced integration of Google+ if you still want Google Talk’s full set of features on your phone, you must upgrade it to Google Hangouts at some point, which you won’t be able to use without a Google+ account.
It’s not a new concept, Google forcing us to join a program in order to use or continue to use its free services. Google’s just being indelicate about it. Amazon has done it since the beginning – if you want to buy, or use certain free services Amazon provides, you need an account.
If you want to use Facetime, you need an Apple account. You can’t even use Skype without a free account. The concept isn’t new – just the Google way of forcing you to opt-out if you don’t want it, rather than opt-in if you do, is what’s new. Even that is splitting hairs – you specifically need to “upgrade” the Google account you likely already have to a Google+ account. Google could have just changed all accounts to Google+ accounts.
So this forced integration is not cute, but at least it gives you the option of not continuing to use certain services. Not much consolation that it could have been worse. But we always have to remember that these Google services are free, which means if we want to continue to use them, we’re pretty much stuck.
What’s more, most consumers don’t see the difference and don’t really care – though those of us who don’t want to be forced to use it in order to continue to use certain Google products are a loudly protesting group, we’re in the minority.
We don’t have to like it or even participate — but the fact that there is about to be a massive consumer adaptation of Google Plus is Critical to understand if you want to enjoy the unique benefits of Google Plus for your business.
While it’s not platform independent, it is device independent. And that is huge because unlike any other video call-enabled system;
- Anyone with a web browser (including those on mobile devices) can join Google+ to get access to free Google+ Hangouts for a video conference, or Google Hangouts on Air, which lets you broadcast live to an unlimited number of people, AND get automatic, free recording and storage that is public, unlisted or private via YouTube.
- Any device running Android or Chrome OS can use Google+ Hangouts. Cells, tablets, Chromebooks. Theoretically you could even broadcast them to your TV using Google Chromecast. Not that important now but could be HUGE as soon as 2015.
- Google Hangouts is also available on every mobile device, whether via the regular site, the desktop site, or an app, such as the one they have for Apple’s iPhones, Macs, and iPads.
And when the internet of things comes along, (starting slowly but surely this year if the futurists are correct), it will likely become completely device independent. When the internet is in everything, we’ll be able to video call from a panel on our refrigerators or via a wearable device that projects onto any flat surface.
So who do you think is going to win the video call war?
- The app that anyone can use free for video calling, video conferencing AND video broadcasting?
- The app anyone can use free if they have certain hardware -but not for video conferencing?
- Or the app that anyone who can circumvent the problems can use for free, and initiate video conferences on for a limited amount of people for $10 a month?
Having witnessed services come and go, start free and then charge since before the internet became the world wide web, I know how I’m placing my bet.
Any day, Google may start charging for the Hangouts on Air feature, or they may never do it. Either way it will pay to jump on this trend before it goes mainstream.