Why would I invest the time into learning how this works, trying to become part of the community etc when I can be pretty sure that they're just going to shut it down in a few years time?
In the early days of Google+ trying to find anyone on the newly formed social network that wasn't part of the tech community was impossible.
Pinterest took off without "us".
Not all new tech needs to go through "us" to be successful.
Don't forget that a Google has killed off a lot more than Reader. Some have been integrated into Google+, but not always and not always well.
When did it become wrong to test a product, and shut it down if it fails?
Why is it evil when Google does that, but okay when a startup does the exact same thing?
The difference between Google and the serious startups is that they have a record of launching products with no plan or intention to make money from them: they are loss leaders to bring more people into the Google walled garden. A lot of people didn't realise that in the past. People used these product knowing they weren't a money earner for Google, but people assumed Google was tying to be a good citizen and provide useful services for people. Using up the piles of money sloshing around at Google. People treat(ed) things like reader or gmail as basic infrastructure. Google enjoyed being treated like the benevolent dictator of the internet. We paid our 'taxes' in the form of ads and in return got lots of services and infrastructure for free. I heard countless people making the argument that Google's interests were intrinsically aligned with those of internet users: there was no way that giving more money and power to Google could ever go wrong.
It was totally wrong for people to think that way: corporations do not operate in the public interest. I think it's easy to understand the emotional backlash: people don't like to be made fools of. What they thought was benevolence turned out to be a PR exercise, or worse, a landgrab.
I can't rule that possibilty out, but I have also never seen evidence that suggested they created Reader with that intent.
Can't it be that Google tried to push adoption of a technology, believing that it would benefit them in the future?
Or that they believed that they would come up with a business model, given enough users.
You are right to be critical about startups without viable business - so am I - but don't forget: Google was that kind of startup for a few years
What you are basically saying is that if someone fails, we should avoid them in the future.
That's not very encouraging for anyone trying to build a business (or anything else).
I'm sorry, but this is an awful excuse. We're the type of people who master new technologies quickly. There's essentially $0 cost, and a ton of benefit, to new products becoming available. That's why they're exciting.
If the same startup starts another useful product, I'll check it out. I think people with your attitude are saying they'll cut off their nose to spite their face... but they actually won't. They'll use useful products, no matter the track record of the company, if the tradeoffs are close to right.
Start-ups should try different things and stop doing the stuff that doesn't work. So should Google. And Jobs saved Apple by killing off most of the products and projects when he returned from Next.
In the case of Google Reader, we saw a product lifespan from 2005 to 2013. That's eight years.
What lifespan can a user reasonably expect from any software product, and at what point is a company killing products so fast, that it's unlikely most customer will extract any value out of it. (considering the time needed to learn using the product and so on)
IF it starts (and that's a big if), it allows to get revenue (as a percentage of the fee for the helpout) from a platform that will not be shut down (google+) and so it will not likely be shut down as well.
Also, I assume that just about any new products they create will be tied into G+ if at all possible, so it remains to be seen if that will be a good indicator or not. If being tied to G+ means things don't close then that means they won't be shutting many things at all in the future. I'm sceptical.
Google+ is not going away (it's a big source for ranking and more) and this project leverages (I suppose) most of the existing infrastructure.
2. What did you lose when google closed reader? It gave you plenty of time and options to go to another service.
3. Products have a limited lifetime, deal with it. And not only on the internet.
4. If you think it's an interesting concept you should join it
Helpouts is build upon hangouts and hangouts is here to stay. Being helped with G+ is a good motivator for keeping the product (if it becomes popular).
If no one uses it, they will kill it for sure.
...just start my own consultancy and cut out the middleman completely?
Do you think Helpouts should exist, yes or no?
If Helpouts become very popular with for instance the tech crowd, and if Google kills Helpouts, you'll see other companies rush to fill the void.
I go to Google Search, and I type in some phrase. The search results happen to not really have any great answers. And down at the bottom of the page is this nice little link that says, "Can't find what you're looking for? Care to ask an Expert?" Out of curiosity, you click it, and it takes you to the Helpouts page.
If they allow people to set their price at $0, some people will just do it out of altruism / reputation. (Think of Stack Overflow karma and badges.)
I could picture Open Source projects using $0 Helpouts, to encourage use - in helping new users configure, in helping users solve problems, in helping developers contribute. It'd be like an IRC channel. Especially if we can invite multiple people to the Helpout, like we can with Hangouts.
I can see businesses using it, as a way to reach Customer Support, when another business or high-end consumer wants to ask a question that they're willing to pay for.
Picture this, "Carmack Thursdays." On Thursday evenings, John Carmack agrees to do $1000 Helpouts, and donates all of the proceeds to a charity of his choice.
Linus Torvalds, Bruce Schneier, Jim Carrey, Ron Paul doing fundraising for a campaign, Markus Persson, Jeff Atwood, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, James Lipton, Tyra Banks, Kevin Smith, Venture Capitalists like the Y-Combinator folks...
If they get the right people to do Helpouts, it could be huge.
Like a one-on-one Reddit Ask Me Anything, where you pay to get backstage passes.
Like internet forums freed hookers from their pimps this will free camgirls from cam sites.
In a less snarky vein, if that's what people want to pay for, perhaps enabling that market in an honest way is what people should do? I know a guy that funded his telecom startup by selling custom prompts for phone sex lines.
It doesn't take much thinking to figure out why they pulled the feature shortly thereafter.
Google tends to do many of them better than their competition.
I'm sure that's the problem. They aren't going to get 10,000,00 people a day trading skills and cash and that is where they will start preparing its' obituary
I think that's the main problem that people are having - is they don't get what makes Google decide on what makes the cut and what doesn't. The decisions Google has made don't make sense to them, so they have nothing but fear.
> They aren't going to get 10,000,00 people a day trading skills and cash
If there's a $0 option, I'm not so sure you're right.
If they drive acceptance of the platform, they drive their revenue, as well.
Everyone is a specialist in their field. $5 Wordpress installs, plug-in's, custom code, logos, etc.
(YC partners: what's your price?)
So how much would you pay for just 1 hour of 'consultation' with a YC partner?
You're far more likely to get to the point and get a focused answer if you get it down to 5-10 minutes.
(It can be $X to their chosen charity if you wish)
Finally, it's a lot more interesting to figure out ways to make things work than be "The Critic."
http://www.wello.com (health& fitness) , http://betterfly.com (everything) http://www.popexpert.com (coaching)- http://www.takelessons.com (music)
The hard part is getting clients that are willing AND able(have the tech/connection) to use the platform. Google will not be there to offer the support that these connections need, and it will fail unless support is outsourced.
Almost all of these sites offer both online and offline(in-person) to survive. These sites might actually do better when Google brings live-online-instruction to the public's attention, and then they go to one of the previous companies that actually cares about supporting the professional and client/student.
Maybe if Google didn't fail pricing 101, they'd know something like 18.25% is more palatable to a consumer than a big round number like 20.
In this case, there are other forums and other ways to get "helpouts" not to mention if it really does take off, expect other major sites to launch their own helpouts efforts and ignore Google's offerings.
I am a math teacher, and I've seen math teachers make $80+/hr tutoring high school and college students. I'd consider trying this platform out, because it would take little effort to get started, and I'd have nothing to lose.
I'd be a little frustrated to see Google take 20% right off the top. But I am assuming that Google has the infrastructure to roll this out without needing to take 20% to maintain profitability on this. Does anyone have a sense of a reasonable fee for this service?
Google different than most of us in that they don't need to directly make money from this effort. The WebRTC analytics generated alone are likely enough to justify the costs.
Also doing paid stuff outside of work can feel like more work, wasted time might be necessary recreation time.
Here's a more civil answer that does not convey what I think such whines should be treated with here.
No, I don't find it ironical. In fact, I think it's great precisely because they have bad customer support. It means they recognize such problems and do want to improve things (sure, maybe with profit in mind. What's wrong with that). Yes, helpouts does not change their customer support the slightest bit. But how much of an issue is it for non-tech people, compared to any other kind of expert help one may need, ? Look outside the tech bubble for a second.
I quite agree with kolya3's comment.
It's safe to say that part of the reason why Google has such a notoriously bad customer support is the scale at which they operate. And what do they do? They solve a much bigger problem with precisely this same scale. Isn't that at the very core of what Google does, is about, is?! For good and bad, Google == scale. So no, I don't find it ironical. I think it is exactly the kind of thing they should do.
It doesn't matter if this works or not, does not matter if it's killed in 6 months or not, it does not matter if the NSA sees that a guy showed you how to flip pizza dough in the air. It is precisely the kind of attitude they should have.
Last thing. I look at the comments in this thread and it's bitter negativity all the way down.
Can seriously none of you see any value in this?! None of you, members and readers of this community about STARTUPS see any business opportunity here?! A chance to create value and grow?! And no, just because it may get killed soon does not immediately mean such opportunity should be ignored. For a niche business leveraging Google's userbase even for a month can mean massive growth. If the service dies, so what, your new clients already know you exist and (hopefully) satisfied with your work.
So just because Google doesn't care, people shouldn't complain? With that very same logic, nobody on HN should go voting, we're just a tiny blob of the world's population anyway, right?
And that now for me is the problem. I see "google", and think, Im being spied on by the US government. No, not exclusively google by any means, but for some reason google is top offender in my mind. Then add to that all the criticisms they got got years before hand, and, well, yes, I now see google as default "evil".
The sad part is, I dont believe for one second the creators of google ever, ever had this in mind. I do wonder if in quiet moments the google founders wonder what the hell happened.
On the other hand, google and all the other mega corps could of course fund their own political party and candidates who could stand for the freedoms they claim to desire and support. So, my charity runs out, given that by doing nothing they are making a choice.
By the way, that pizza bloke? What if he turns out to be a terrorist, and there is now meta data linking him and you? What if its only his friend who hates America's idea of "freedom", you're still linked by meta data. So, I say yes, it may well matter. I know, what have you got to hide?
If you are talking personal use: why would I even be remotely interested in helping out that funny-looking guy from Palestine who needs money to bootstrap his water-bottling business? I should be crazy to do that. Maybe it turns out the guy has a cousin who has taken out money from him to buy some bullets and go fighting the Israel army. Am I interested in getting dragged down that hole? Not a little bit.
So I self-censor.
It's fascinating how Google is slowly turning into the Microsoft of the mid-90's/early 00's. Most people depend on it, many are starting to hate it after a few very bad experiences (with their nonexistant customer service for example).
I stumbled upon this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYJuCZr67VE and now believe that this format is going to be wonderful for anyone trying to learn things. Google building in a backbone platform for it makes it all the better.
"Should thou ever integrate video with a payment system, thou shalt be sundered full of naked bodies"
The issue isn't that sex-based services are bad, it's that when they eclipse other uses of the product, the reputation is set.
Add to that the generally puritanical nature of most societies with regards to sex services, and the rampant potential of abuse with regards to sex workers, and you have a good incentive for companies to avoid/deny those usages.
Even though craigslist was a great boon for sex workers in the cities it operated in, it pissed off the establishment and now it's not nearly as discoverable as it used to be.
I've successfully had vicarious openings via both voice & text, so video seems like it would be even better.
I have no opinion on whether or not this should exist, whether google will shut it down, whether it will be effective, etc.
When doing a proper lockout I can take IDs, have people sign things, etc. all of which have (in general, not in my personal experience) failed on one level or another and the modern history of locksmithing is rife with tragic stories of locksmiths unwittingly helping absolutely terrible people.
Some means of identification/authentication would certainly be possible with Helpers, but again, I cannot imagine Google would engage in the headache of adding that layer.
- Will I get in trouble depending on which people I want to help?
- Will I get in trouble depending on what activities are the people I help involved into?
A couple of months ago, the default was "I trust this company, unless I have evidence of the contrary". Now the default has radically changed: "I do not trust this company, unless I have very strong evidence of the contrary; and even then, I might not trust them, because they could be forced to lie"
So the internet is now a medium without trust. The less I do there, the better.
You should probably talk to a professional about this. Distrusting everyone is paranoia and a dangerous attitude.
But I'll take your advice and visit my psychiatrist. In the meantime, no google helpouts for me. I mean, I can probably pass on this one. And on the next one. Why take any risks?
Why leave the house at all? Everything has risks, but it sounded like you were being quite paranoid and I meant what I said with a kind heart.
In the internet, I am not in control of the risks anymore. I do not even know who is lying to me. Can I even trust the government? Obviously not! They even have laws forbidding to talk about what they are doing. Is this a democracy? Whatever ...
I'll stay at home for a while, thanks.
The potential for abuse would have to be carefully monitored/considered, of course.
They threw out a good working system in Google Talk that even had people contacting me from other chat clients and platforms, like iPhone. Now they can't even get chatting inside their own platform working. I'm sure any effort by engineers to get this working would just immediately by quashed by the useless biz guys who control Google now.
How will the 'Google' factor impact / advance the business concept?
Yes, there is a better than even chance that this will go nowhere like knoll, but could we please give it a chance to prove itself before shutting it down?
Very similar to how freelancing websites work
I am not sure if the concept of getting paid for help via Hangouts is something the technology is reliable or high enough quality for at the moment.
My prediction: this is just a gimmick which will go the way of Google Wave
All this is going to do is kill the motivation of freelancing sites because the dinosaur has entered the room and definitely kill some of them. Yet I doubt they are going to be that of a big player in that niche. sigh
Am I going to use Google as my option C? I really doubt, because there is a good chance Google will be arranging the same option B above. So what is the point?
I was pretty sad when Google bought and closed Aardvark. If they somehow resurrect it in this form, maybe its death was not in vain :)
With mobile gaining traction, this could be a central hub for a decentralized solopreneur economy, even inside corporations. You can consult your lawyer, accountant, doctor, pharmacist right from your tablet and be charged through this interface. Even better, your lawyer/doctor etc. is based in india and charge a 10th of the cost. Also, great to watch and charge babysitters, mechanics, cleaners etc. Also, supervising factory workers in china. The factory has telecommute robot for rent floating around and you log in and do some checking on your product being produced.
If google record and analyze the videos, they could even run some machine learning on this and turn into automated robots that carry out the task.
Great idea, an app store for people peddling that could turn into an artificial intelligence robot.
This is different, it's for physical work monitoring, and where real time face to face interaction is valued. Alternatives to this are get in a car, rent an office, get on a plane.