Integrates Meet with Gmail, plans to add Zoom-like features
Looking to take advantage of the skyrocketing demand for video collaboration, Google is making enhancements to Meet.
The Lowdown: In an interview with Reuters, Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of G Suite for Google, said the company also sees an opportunity to gain traction in the space due to security and privacy concerns around products from rivals, such as Zoom.
The Details: Through the integration, Gmail users in business, government, and education will be able to take video calls on Meet, which is separate from the consumer-centric Hangouts. According to Google, Meet has seen more growth in daily users since January than any other service, highlighting the demand for videoconferencing that other vendors have seen as local and state governments have instituted lockdown and social distancing orders in hopes of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
Integrating Meet with Gmail is only the first of a number of features that are being launched ahead of schedule to meet the demand for videoconferencing, Soltero told Reuters. Other capabilities in Meet that will come later this month include a layout that will enable up to 16 callers to be displayed at once, similar to what Zoom offers. Google also will improve the video quality of Meet in dim lighting and will enable the tool to filter out background noise.
To entice more users, Google isn’t charging customers for upgrades to features in Meet through September.
The Impact: Many vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom, are saying that demand for their videoconferencing tools have spiked in the past couple of months. Soltero wouldn’t disclose Meet’s user growth rate to Reuters but said the service recently hit a peak in users that was 60% higher than the day before. Google earlier this month noted that Meet – available via a browser or mobile app – was adding 2 million new users a day. The service has more than 100 million education users across 150 countries.
Other vendors also are trying to muscle their way into the market. Cloud communications vendor RingCentral earlier this month rolled out its own videoconferencing tool and Verizon this week announced that it’s buying video collaboration company BlueJeans Network for about $500 million.
Background: The demand for videoconferencing services and products also comes with high security and privacy expectations. As demand for Zoom’s technology climbed in March, so did concerns about whether the company was doing enough to secure conferences and product user data. In response to security threats – one of which is “zoombombing,” or crashing video meetings uninvited – Zoom has upgraded many security features and created an advisory board to help it address these concerns. Last week, Google banned employees from using the Zoom platform for just this reason.
The Buzz: “I’ve seen time and time again customers and prospects coming from other solutions that have not been able to keep up or had concerns in security and reliability,” Soltero said.