I Don’t Care If It Is More Social… Is It More Useful?

Maybe I’m the only one with ADHD here, but I just don’t get the excitement behind Google+ Hangouts and the collective “meh” over Facebook Video Chat. I’ve been a Skype user for sometime now, and while I’ve had the occasional need for a group chat, it has never been near the 10 people that Hangouts allows. More often than not is just a simple one-to-one chat when I am too lazy to type or I want something a little more personal than a phone call.

Now, as I’ve said, I’m not on Google+ yet, so Hangouts may change everything, but philosophically speaking, I just don’t buy it. Sure it is super cool to get ten of your friends on a video chat and go buck wild, but isn’t that mainly because it is novel? Once the shiny newness wears off, how often are we going to want to do this? How much are you really going to be able to accomplish with 10 little screens vying for your attention?

I see some great business applications, I see some great personal applications, but how deep and how often does that need run? Is my Grandmother going to want to use this1. Are those elusive, yet social teens just dying for a way to connect en masse? Even though Skype is pretty darn solid, I’d argue that video chat is not nearly as prevalent as we would like it to be. While I may be alone, I can’t believe that suddenly we are going to go from using this occasionally to using it often just because it is “more social.”

If We Are A Social Media Hammer, Does Video Chat Look Like A Social Nail?

Look at this from the same standpoint as your phone; we’ve had conference lines and the ability to pull multiple users in for a long time now, but how often do we really use these features? Every now and again they are essential, but in a real day-to-day manner… not so much2.

Facebook may have aimed lower with their video project than Google+, but so what? One-to-one chat is really what people need. Besides, parity is always the name of the game, so I am sure they will be announcing the introduction of group chat sooner rather than later. All I know is, for me… quick access to video chat with all of my friends is a hell of a lot more useful and a hell of a lot more “social” than group chat with the ten friends I manage to scrape together on Google+.

Then again, I’m still not on Google+, so what do I know? Seriously, can any of you help a brother out with an invite?

Update: I have access now, so I might have to work on an informed opinion… Also made a minor change to the title for clarity.

  1. Well, not my grandma, she doesn’t even have a computer, but the “Royal” grandma.  

  2. Some of you will disagree here, but you are the exception, not the rule  

17 Responses to I Don’t Care If It Is More Social… Is It More Useful?

  1. I see the multiple video chat great for businesses/clients, and non-profits. If you can live stream to a wider audience – say, connect your Facebook LiveStream for example, or embed into your blog, it’s be cool to see charities have key principals chat with supporters and those they’re helping to make a very effective emotional connection.

    • Oh, I totally get those, but again, better for the businesses than it is for the user. Unless the access to brands and organizations are appealing enough… just not so sure… Also totally agree that it will be far more appealing if it can live off the site, but I don’t see G+ and FB playing nice anytime soon :)

      Still wonder, for the use case you are talking about, if Ustream isn’t enough…

      • Vokle is a great service for this kind of thing too. While it only has 2 people on video at a time, you can make anyone on the “call” a presenter, and you can do things like pop questions up on the screen. You can embed the live stream on your blog, and anyone can join in.

  2. You have heard the common description of G+ Hangouts?   You go and hangout on your front porch and anyone can stop in and chat on the stoop!   …and at this point in time that could truly be ANYONE!

  3. Hangouts are hardly the thing to get excited over, I agree. Although, I do know quite a large group that do regularly use video chat and, like Danny, I do see those business uses. But, for me, this isn’t the largest draw.

    Sorry, Michael. Don’t have your email, so can’t invite you or I would. ; )

    • Just managed to weasel my way in, but thanks Shad! I totally see those business uses as well, just think on a day-to-day, we are going to get a lot more use out of the 1-to-1. While it is compelling for businesses and non-profits, it is really going to have to be important to everyday people if this is going to be the feature that gets the every day user to switch…

  4. I am tech saavy but I find conference calling on my cellphone to be a pain in the ass. If it were easier I would use it more often. And the multiple person video chat will be something that my family uses frequently. We are scattered around the states and the world, so it should be useful.

    • True, easier does make things more usable and therefore more useful. I actually just changed the title as I think it was unclear. It isn’t that I think it isn’t useful, it’s that I don’t think it is AS useful. Far more likely and common that you will want to talk to one of them (and that is if these video features really take off) than it is that you are going to coordinate all of them.

  5. So far they’re been a lot of buzz about Google+ but I’m not super excited about it. Not sure why so many are, unless it’s because its new. Group video chat has been in in the business world for a while, and Mac users can use iChat to do 3-way video calling. I can see the collaboration potential for smaller teams that are geographically distributed, or friends to virtually clink a glass. Other than that, dunno.

    The interface for the site is awesome though, and the way you can add people to circles and then send updates on a circle by circle basis. Now that is awesome.

    • I logged on this morning, stared at the box and couldn’t think of anything that I’d want to share there that I wouldn’t share on either Twitter or FB…

      I think many are not only excited because it is new, but because it is potentially a new product to sell… I know that it harsh, but I can’t help feeling like it is true. Most people in my office of non-techies, don’t even know the thing exists…

      Agreed that it has some serious potential as a collaboration tool, but so did wave and people didn’t care.

      The execution is inspiring, there is no doubt, what I can’t put my finger on is the need.

      • Agreed. The more I use it the more I like it, and we’ll see what Google has for brands later on this year. It’s in the early adopter phase for now, which means techies and tech savvy marketers.

        • Completely, and even once they unveil the business side, it will be techies, tech savvy and businesses… how on earth are they going to get regular folks in there… now that is the real question.

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