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Google may be throwing its hat into the business communications ring with a new enterprise-oriented video conferencing service.
Google is quietly developing the service, called Google Meet, or GMeet. The cloud-based service and mobile application will reportedly allow enterprise users to use Google Hangouts to launch video calls with a single click, rather than requiring a passkey or dial-in information to enter a room. This offering could make it easier for internal employees -- as well as those outside an organization -- to join a video meeting.
A heavy hitter in the consumer space, Google hasn't been seen as an enterprise UC player because of its limited Web conferencing services and lack of enterprise telephony services, said Irwin Lazar, analyst for Nemertes Research. Instead, most enterprises rely on vendors like Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya for UC.
Google has also had its share of flops in the collaboration space. Google+ didn't quite take off as a social networking platform, and Google Wave, the vendor's real-time messaging platform, was taken off the market a year after its release in 2010.
But when Google delivered its first-ever keynote at this year's Enterprise Connect, it sparked questions about the vendor's overall plans and its enterprise communications strategies in particular, said David Maldow, founder and analyst for Let's Do Video.
"It seems that Google is trying to match the other [UC vendors' products] point by point, and they keep adding enterprise features," he said. "For example, Google Hangouts has a partnership with Blue Jeans, and those services can be used to call into conventional video rooms outfitted with vendors like Polycom. That's a feature that businesses want."
GMeet could allow users to view a personal schedule of meetings for the day, schedule new meetings and join an internal meeting in progress with one click. Connected to a room-based video conference from a cloud-based video service like Google Hangouts isn't always simple, and GMeet could help eliminate the complexity around dialing in, Maldow said.
For this reason, GMeet could be interesting for enterprises with existing, expensive room-based video conferencing investments, Maldow said.
"This could offer an easy way to get to those old-fashioned room systems," he said. "That' not something that consumers, or even very small businesses, would care about, so I think this is a big business play."
Google in the enterprise
Leaked screenshots of Google Meet were uncovered last week; currently, the service is said to be available only to Google employees for internal testing. The vendor has yet to comment publicly on GMeet or its future plans. Google Hangouts hasn't historically been considered an enterprise-grade video option, but some businesses -- primarily higher education and small to midsize companies -- are using Google Apps for work, said Irwin Lazar, analyst for Nemertes.
In a 2013-2014 Nemertes Research benchmark survey of businesses using cloud-based instant messaging, email and calendaring services, approximately 60% were using Office 365 tools from Microsoft and 25% of businesses were using Google.
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