Anytime Google retires anything, it gathers the attention of the media; even if it is a program that is not very well-known. April 20th of this year, Google will take Google Helpouts behind the barn and put an end to the application. Why, you might ask? You can likely answer that question yourself by the fact that you probably weren’t even aware the service existed.
Google has posted a support document that further explains their reasoning behind the decision:
The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected. Sadly, we’ve made the tough decision to shut down the product.
Google Helpouts is not to be confused with Google Hangouts, which is likely why the story about Helpouts being shut down is picking up so much traction. We had to do a double-take to make sure Google was not shutting down Google Hangouts; one of their most popular applications. In fact, Google Hangouts is so popular that in a survey done by Lifehacker, 91% of the respondents chose Google Hangouts as their video chat service of choice. This thankfully means Google Hangouts is here to stay secured by its hundreds of millions of monthly users (including us!). You can rest easy, Google Hangout isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Unfortunately, Google Helpouts hasn’t taken the world by storm quite like Google Hangouts did. The service allowed experts to provide and sell online coaching in a variety of subjects such as photography, video editing, photo editing, singing, and more. While an incredible concept, perhaps it was ahead of its time. One of the challenges often cited by critics is that the quality of such sessions were completely dictated by the quality of the internet connection between mentor and Padawan. It’s challenging to provide voice coaching when the audio that is coming across the line is distorted due to compression caused by low bandwidth. More hands on activities, such as photography, would be even more hampered by the lack of actual presence. Maybe Google is planning a re-release of the service after they take over the internet market with Google Fiber. We predicted it first ladies and gentlemen!
Regardless, it is always disappointing to see a company invest time and resources into a product that doesn’t quite resonate with users as predicted. This is even more disappointing for those that relied heavily on the service for their livelihood in providing online mentoring. Thankfully, Google Hangouts will remain an option to share screens and webcams and can be used in tandem with services such as oDesk and Fiverr to help fill the void of connecting people with experts. All is not lost, just a service that Google unfortunately wasn’t profiting enough off of to justify continuing to support.
Have you ever used Google Helpouts? How was your experience? Are you disappointed that the service is going away? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!