Google Hangouts, Photos and the Direction of Google Plus
In June of 2011, Vic Gundotra and crew debuted Google+ and the Google Hangout. A video conference service for up to 10 people to “Hang Out”. As a beta user and original Hangout member, we used to spend a lot of late night hours bouncing from one hangout to another.
Since then, the Hangout feature has vastly improved. They switched to their own VP8 codec, giving an HD quality to the service. Bringing in an open API, many have built some great apps around the video service such as lower 3rds, cameraman, and more.
Google has also changed the way Hangouts initiates. They created an IM environment which takes over the phone’s contact list. A couple months ago I talked about this and started asking the question if Google is planning to ultimately take over the phone part of your mobile device – to the point you don’t have a phone number anymore.
In all fairness, Facebook has also separated their messanging app from the main program – although you still need an account to sign in. It makes me wonder if the next big battle will be for your contact list and phone needs.
Facebook would have a ways to go with what Hangouts is doing. Google has moved forward by launching a professional video conference service called Chromebox for meetings. Their $999 service is going to compete with services such as Citrix GotoMeeting and Cisco’s WebEx.
If I was Corporate business, I would definitely want to control who gets to use the conference service, and I would really want to have customers see corporate email addresses to keep business separate from personal. This is a big reason why I believe Hangouts was separated.
Google apparently isn’t stopping there. Reports have been coming out that Photos will also be separated from Google+. This also can be attributed to the mobile device. Photos can be taken and uploaded so Google can control your photobook. All without logging into your G+ account.
It really makes me wonder where Google is going with these services. I liked the fact they were all in one area and controlled by one login. Especially with a phone – I don’t want to have to login 2-3 times to different apps.
Google+ had three major programs running from it – Hangouts, photos, and the highly debated YouTube which was integrated over a year ago. Now that Google has separated two of the three, are we going to see YouTube get the split?
Further, for some of us who attached our YouTube accounts and work the circles, will we get kicked back and have to re-setup all our accounts again?
If YouTube does get separated from Google+, you will definitely see the “Google+ is Dead” posts come back in vengence. The last time we dealt with this was in March when TechCrunch gave a less-than-stellar article of hearsay and speculation.
There are still a lot of great advantages to having a Google+ account. Communities thrive, and people are big on circle management. Business pages are also a great way to get more fans to your product.
I personally have 28,000 followers on Google+ and a few thousand on my business pages. If the service was to shut down tomorrow, I might lose a lot of reach I had built in the last 3 years.
So should I start beefing up my Facebook? Up until last month, I did what a lot of others did with their Facebook profiles – kept it to friends and family. Since then, I have made an open initiative to those who want to tuely connect with me. It may set me back a couple years though.
If you want to connect with me there – Facebook.com/jeffreypowers. Make sure you have some details available such as a photo of you and where you work.
The next 12 months will really tell the story to how Google backs their social network. The two major programs removed will probably grow exponentially while Gundotra’s vision could be burring out.