- Google is making Meet free to all users, not just G Suite customers, the company announced Wednesday. While Meet was previously extended to any participant, only paying G Suite account holders were able to schedule calls.
- The company will begin rolling out the free offering next week and expects full access to take several weeks to complete. In September, Google will limit the free accounts to 60 minutes of meeting time.
- The announcement coincides with Meet reaching "a significant milestone" by adding 3 million new users daily to the platform, according to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, during the company's Q1 2020 earnings call. Google Meet now hosts 100 million daily meeting participants.
The collaboration market, as saturated as it is, has been unwavering during the coronavirus outbreak.
While Zoom stole the spotlight for video conferencing, reaching 300 million daily meeting participants this month, it has faced privacy and security troubles, raising questions about to what extent it does end-to-end encryption of calls.
Google is leaning on security features to differentiate its platform. All videos are "encrypted in transit" and stored recordings in Google Drive are "encrypted in transit and at rest," the company announced Wednesday. Zoom was also dealing with "Zoom-bombers," a phenomenon Google could sidestep by having free users create Gmail accounts. This would hinder just anyone from accessing a meeting link.
Zoom's security red flags led to Google issuing a ban of Zoom the first week of April, but competition is only an element of a restriction. Shadow IT can worm its way into hosting intellectual property.
Last year Microsoft issued a similar ban of Slack for employees. Microsoft Teams is a competitor of Slack and Google Meet, and also "discouraged" the use of Amazon Web Services, Google Docs and Microsoft-owned GitHub.
Google's free version provides an alternative to Zoom (and its security woes), while feeding the the G Suite machine.
Behind Microsoft, Google is the only other major force in the email and authoring market, or office suite market. Microsoft dominates the market, thanks to customer comfort and stalwart subscriptions.
Collaboration, especially now, could help differentiate the suites. Google Meet's growth is "thirtyfold" compared to January, said Pichai. All video and collaboration platforms have felt a near-overnight boost from the swift shift to remote work.
However, Google has left customers confused before. Meet was eventually launched for business, but customers had to wait on Hangouts' uncertain future. Additionally, when Google+ for consumers was dismantled, enterprise customers were unsure if their version was also canceled.