With lockdown driving people in droves to video-conference to stay connected to work and kin, tech giant Google has made its Meet application free for all users. This is likely to give a tough time to players like Zoom and BlueJeans, which have gained popularity in recent times.
Google Meet was earlier available to users who had subscribed to GSuite enterprise plan. Director of product management at Google, Smita Hashim told the Economic Times that this is the first time that a product designed for enterprises is being extended to individual users.
Around 100 participants can now connect in one go on Meet and Google is extending all the benefits, previously available to enterprise clients of Google Meet, to everyone.
Other premium features which users will get now are recording, streaming, in-person meetings and enhanced safety controls. Recently, Google has also added a new feature where users can see more participants on the screen. People will soon be able to access Meet on Google Chrome browser by simply clicking on the icon.
Google said that it is witnessing increased usage among family members, friends and hobby groups. Hospitals are also connecting doctors with patients on the platform. Hashim said there are many ways in which people need video conferencing right now. “They are using it for business, telehealth, retail or education,” she added.
Google is confident that it has the infrastructure capability to handle the increased demand that may come by providing the service for free. Hashim said that many existing Google clients are looking to continue working from home even after the lockdown ends as it’s going well for them.
Besides Meet, Google offers Gmail and Maps service free to all users across the world. Hashim said, “We’ve already seen how Google Meet has been helping businesses and schools. We kept seeing the need for a very secure as well as easy-to-use, high-quality service for individual users as well. These apps are being used in ways which are unprecedented right now”
Will Google Benefit From Security Issues Plaguing Zoom?
With work moving online and cloud meetings becoming the new normal, enterprises, people are increasingly using online meeting platforms to connect.
The trend is quite evident in India where Zoom was the most downloaded application by Indians during the first quarter of 2020. Zoom was installed on around 6 Mn smartphones in India out of the total 80 Mn installs worldwide during the first quarter of 2020.
However, security issues around Zoom have posed difficulties for its grow further globally. The Indian government, earlier this month, flagged security issues in Zoom. Google had also mandated that its employees don’t use Zoom. Now the company will allow GSuite users to directly take videoconferencing calls from Gmail on video conferencing tool Meet.
Given the fact that Indians trust Google for its services, the Meet platform might become more popular than other video conferencing platforms soon.
Currently, Google is witnessing a 30X surge and is said to be used by 3 Mn new users each day amid the lockdown. Overall, the total number of users on the platform has crossed the 100 Mn mark.
Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook also launched a video conferencing application called Messenger Rooms app. Around 50 people can participate in a call at the same time on Messenger Rooms app.