When Google+ rolled out last year, it quickly earned millions of members. There was so much buzz going on about how Google+ could actually threaten the seemingly untouchable Facebook social network. There was finally another contestant in the race that actually had a chance. However, as the months went on, it soon became obvious that people just weren’t leaving Facebook for Google+ as Google had hoped. Facebook still reigns.
But Google+ still had a few tricks up its sleeves. With Hangouts, Google+ members could video chat with a total of 10 people at one time. Soon buzz began to spread once again that Google+ could overtake Skype and other popular web conferencing services via Hangouts. As time goes on, everyone is watching to see if these other methods of video chatting will end up losing all their members to Google+. But web conferencing services just aren’t truly threatened by Google+.
A Look at Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangouts offer amazing tools for businesses. Participants in Hangouts can share their screens, edit documents together via Google Docs, use a shared whiteboard, and while only ten people can actively participate, an unlimited number of people can look on. It seems like Google+ has everything a business would need for web conferencing, and for free, so why aren’t other services threatened?
The Comfort of the Familiar
They are, to some extent, but for the most part they feel comfortable. Many businesses have been using their services for years and have already paid for yearly subscriptions, so they won’t be jumping ship anytime soon. Web conferencing services are counting on keeping their loyal customers who are already accustomed to their services. While lots of businesses may welcome the change that comes with Google+, many others aren’t interested in using an entirely new service.
The average cost of a full-featured web conferencing service is about $50 per month. For a large corporation that cost is not really a big deal. Smaller companies will be enticed by the entirely free nature of Google+ Hangouts, but there are other free services out there, and they’re probably already using one. In addition, Google+ Hangouts has inspired many web conferencing services to beef up their offerings and add more features in order to keep their customers. Doing so may indicate that they feel threatened, but by enhancing their own features they’re only further ensuring customer loyalty.
For right now, web conferencing services are counting on the reluctance of their customers to embrace a social network as a major business tool. Google+ may be great for connecting with customers, but web conferencing services are for really getting down to serious business. Many companies have that mindset, and web conferencing services know it. The public nature of Google+ may make it seem a little too informal and out in the open for private meetings and discussing strictly internal issues. Within a year or two web conferencing services will really see the potential effects of Google+ Hangouts on their membership rates, but for now they aren’t too worried.