Google adds voice, video chat to Gmail, Google Apps
Videoconference tool will appeal to consumers, business, Google says
CIO - Google Inc. added a voice and video chat feature to Gmail today. The capability allows people who use the free e-mail service to click on a contact's name and talk face-to-face with the contact in a videoconference -- as long as both the user and his contact have computers equipped with webcameras and microphones.
Google believes that the voice and video features will benefit from the fact that webconferencing has become easier in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of Web-based applications and cameras that have been built into computers as standard features.
"It opens up opportunities that weren't there before," says Rajen Sheth, the senior product manager at Google Enterprise, which oversees Google Apps. "And just from a Web browser, you can initiate this functionality."
A Gmail user who wants to use the service must install a small plug-in (only a couple of megabytes in size) to his Web-browser. Gmail runs in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Google's Chrome beta.
By launching the video chat feature, Google dips its toes into a market occupied by technology vendors new and old, including IBM, which offers video functionality in its Lotus Sametime instant messaging software, and Skype, a free service that allows people to videoconference and place phone calls over the Web.
In addition to Google's business customers, Gmail caters to a large consumer base that has been estimated to be in the tens of millions. According to Sheth, the decision to add the feature stemmed from user feedback in both markets.
"We've gotten strong feedback from consumers as well as businesses: Text chat is only one way they want to communicate in real time with other people," Sheth says. "Voice and video is the next logical step, and they wanted it to connect to their Web mail."
The addition of video bolsters Google's head start over Microsoft Corp. in providing a fully Web-based package of productivity applications -- one that extends beyond e-mail, word-processing and spreadsheets.
Since Google Apps launched in February, 2007, it has added a wiki technology (known as Google Sites) that allows people to build both internal- and external-facing Web sites with no programming experience, a presentation application (think: PowerPoint), and the ability to upload and share video (think: YouTube for businesses).
- Improving Business Value of WAN Optimization Want to achieve faster ROI with WAN optimization? Read the latest IDC report and discover how you can cut IT costs without compromising...
- Four Little-Known Ways WAN Optimization Can Benefit Your Organization Read this white paper to learn how far WAN optimization has come, and how to make this most of your investments by using...
- IDC ROI Infographic Trends such as evolving communication patterns, connection types, applications and bandwidth can have an impact on enterprise organizations. Learn how IT organizations can...
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Live Webcast IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!