Friday, 8 November 2013

Google in need of their own Helpout?

Google Helpouts has finally launched and like any new kid in the playground, there is a mixture of curiosity and jealousy that surrounds them.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, the basics is that it provides ‘how to’ sessions for you with anyone in the world who has knowledge on what you need to know. Being advertised currently as an all-encompassing service; its promises are large.

So what are the advantages of this? It obviously has global reach and is a 24/7 service. You can also schedule the Helpout to be at the best time for you, as long as it suits the ‘Provider’. (The Provider is the person who you contact for their expertise.)

There are also ‘Hangouts’ which is a place to share messages, photos and information to people in your personal contacts list. You can record Helpout videos to be accessed at any time. There is a possibility, in time; it will be flooded with an abundance of information that we just cannot wait to use. And it’s ‘free’... in some cases. Although there is an option for the Provider to be ‘Free’, a lot of them do charge.

Something I could not find though is how, if you are a Provider, how you get paid. It keeps harking back to Google Wallet but the actual specifics of how you get paid seems to be a little hidden. It boasts of home you chance choose your own price to charge but does not advertise so willing that Google take 20% of what you earn.

With a little further research, it also becomes apparent; Google may have an ulterior motive here. To use this service you must use your Google+ account and also pay using Google Wallet. So, in the immersion of using Google facilities, you are either in or out. I am unsure if this will last and it may even become a slight deterrent; but still it is changing Google’s image and they are being brave enough to pioneer in this way.

To me it does seem a little redundant considering we do have YouTube, which almost undermines the whole idea. Google Helpout is no safer than YouTube or Skype, more interactive yes, but most ‘How to’ questions can already be answered out there. Also, as they are so exclusive, they will only be able to give out information that Providers put in.

The risk of connection problems must also be considered. For example, if you are in the middle of a Helpout and the connection breaks what happens nest? The Provider may have other things to attend to and, if you have paid, where do you stand? Do you get a refund? When it comes to both the privacy and general policies, Google sound rather hands off with it.

There are no exact prediction figures released for how Google thinks this will work out but judging by the media launch they are hoping it’s big. They seem to be trying to tackle an image change and a new product all at the same time, if it works it could be incredible for their market share.

Sadly, I feel Google may have aimed too high with this endeavor; of course I may be eating my words within a week. I believe they should have maybe just tackled one area of the ‘Help’ market and let it grow organically from there. Setting your sights too high in the most public forum on the planet is a major risk. If this does not make big news it will be instantly viewed as failure.

Most successful businesses, especially online, work because they have created a need that wasn’t there in the first place. I can see what Google are trying to attempt with this and it may work out really well. When weighing up the pros and cons, I think they will need a huge amount of marketing to raise popularity. Unless it begins to trend and get mass exposure I feel it will remain a ‘plan B’ for most Internet users.

Google may have lost their touch in this particular instance but it is not all bad. Like I mentioned before, it could be a huge success. If people don't mind paying strangers to talk to them via the Internet to give them information that could probably be attained for free elsewhere then I’m sure it will.

From doing my research and truly trying to see both the pros and cons of this, it's safe to say that I will not be participating... until its free maybe.

Do you do your companies social media or do you use a management company?