Google Helpouts, the company’s service to provide solutions and advice by connecting information seekers with experts via live video, is pulling off the plug.
The ideas with Helpouts have been to leverage Google’s identity tool, payment technologies and online video service in order to provide web users with both free as well as paid support sessions covering a wide array of topics. Today, the Helpouts website offer services on topics like photography, parenting, fashion, beauty, cooking and lot more. The problem for Google is all these advises are already available for free on various other video site like YouTube. Though YouTube videos cannot connect with a live person, it can mostly offer the solution one is looking for.
Google Helpouts service has been facing various challenges on the monetization front too. A couple of months ago, Google rolled down the shutters of the paid Helpouts in the EU because of the changing tax laws. Today, the website advises providers from UK and Ireland that they may only offer free Helpouts, and EU clients may only take free Helpouts. That’s likely been a fall to the service’s ability to attract providers and consumers in the market.
Helpouts phone application too never hit the heights. Although they saw some gains at the initial stage (ranked high in the Lifestyle category apps on iTunes), they were far from popular. The Android version of the app was not any better. The Hangouts mobile app appear to have already removed from the Google Play and Apple App store. Customers will no longer be able to use Helpouts after April 19th. Users can download their Helpouts history using Google Takeout from April 20th to November 1st.
In some ways, Google Helpouts was like Skype Prime, a directory of advisers – call providers – offered advice or skills training over Skype. Calls were charged at a rate that both the callers and advisers agreed on. The service was discontinued after Skype 4.0, several years ago.
Apart from Google and Skype, Amazon in September launched Mayday, a tech support feature for Kindles that connects a user to a customer service representative. The e-commerce giant has had more luck with the feature – which lets users ask any kind of technical help, including ordering a pizza online – and often bragging about its customer reviews of the experience.
Amazon may have had some luck but Google historically has struggled in the Q&A and advice-giving space when it comes to launching standalone services designed to provide its users with more information beyond its blue links. Google Answers, where researchers were paid to answer direct inquiries was shut in 2006 after running for four years.
Google’s YouTube and its own web search has been the biggest competitor for Google’s Helpout. If anything, Google’s knowledge Graph has been the most successfull effort to provide more direct answers for web searchers. Using data from a variety of sources, Google can now provide information on a wide range of queries, including health information without having to visit websites.