Google announced Monday morning that its enterprise video calling app, Hangouts Meet, will be capable of connecting directly to competing apps, including Microsoft Skype for Business. In doing so, Google is trying to build market share by attempting to help customers make sense of a complex glut of services and apps across the video conferencing industry.
The market for collaboration apps is overflowing, and Google is trying to make its communication apps more appealing and omnipresent by making them compatible with a broad array of competing apps. The video conference business is estimated to be $16 billion and is expected to grow 20 percent each year, hitting $41 billion by 2022, according to Forbes. Google, which launched Meet in early 2017, is trying to carve out a place for itself simply by becoming ubiquitous.
For an example of how complicated the chat and video conference market is, look no further than Google’s own product lineup. Until last year, Google had a business-focused video conferencing app called Hangouts and two consumer apps — Allo for chat and Duo for video calls. Then, to take on Slack more aggressively, Google split Hangouts into two apps — Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. That makes at least four conferencing or chat apps offered by Google alone.
Rany Ng, director of product management at Google’s G Suite, said in a blog post that the average employee uses 36 cloud services to collaborate and share files, causing delays and lost time as they struggle to make sure all of those apps are working well together. Google is trying to cut down on those awkward moments at the start of a meeting when people are trying to connect, figure out who’s on a call — and who can’t log in.
For Skype users, Google says the new integration will make it possible “to easily join a meeting on Meet directly from their Skype app.” Google didn’t need to get Microsoft’s permission to connect to Skype, a Google spokeswoman said. Instead, Google was able to join Meet with Skype and other apps by partnering with an infrastructure-as-a-service company called Pexip, which uses Microsoft APIs to join third-party apps with Skype.
In addition, Pexip makes Hangouts Meet compatible with a wide array of other conferencing apps and services, including Cisco, Polycom and Microsoft Surface Hub. A Google spokeswoman said Meet will work with just about any other video or conference service that uses SIP/H.323, two common standard communication protocols. In addition, people using Hangouts Chat won’t have to pay extra to chat with people outside their domain or organization.
Google also announced Monday that other apps in its G-Suite productivity software lineup will also connect with third-party apps and services. For example, Google Calendar will work with Microsoft Exchange Resource Booking and third-party conferencing. That means people will be able to click a link in a calendar invite to book a conference room or join a meeting from a web or mobile.
Separately, people will also be able to export data directly to Sheets from the enterprise resource planning software SAP ERP.