Should Quora Challenge Google Helpouts?

Last week Google announced Google Helpouts. It was the kind of product that people have talked about, and that startups have been trying to execute on since video chat’s relevancy has increased in the past few years.

I love that Google has stepped up to the plate with this. With most people having the capability to video chat these days, it was only a matter of time before we were able to speak with experts “face to face” instead of calling or leaving our homes. My biggest question is: When will this become mainstream?

Many startups have been trying to do this with certain niche segments for a few years, however it was Amazon who jumped in first with their 24/7 video chat help button, Mayday, on their new Kindle’s that showed this idea executed on a larger scale. Google is the right player to create a marketplace for this, but I have to wonder with the arguably-steep revenue sharing model (20% for non-healthcare) if another player will emerge with a more simple and less expensive model.

One of the first companies that comes to mind is Quora. I don’t think they will do it, but wouldn’t it make sense for a site that is built around people trying to get their question’s answered, to branch out to real time answers? Vetting would be a challenge, but not an impossibility, and I assume they are still trying to bring on new users and get more mainstream as the company develops. Launching an accompanying product where answers could be saved, creating an almost Google Helpouts meets Khan Academy, would be a great way to drive new types of revenue as well. 

Google took the first big step with Helpouts that brought this technology to the masses. I’m excited for the potential of a huge marketplace that will help eliminate inefficiencies and solve problems. The possibilities are vast for how companies want to tackle this market. Let’s just hope there are competitors to drive improvements and lower costs over time, like iOS and Android have been doing for years now.

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