Get ready for "lonelyCEO15." Google on Tuesday plans to unveil a corporate version of its YouTube video sharing service called Google Video for Business.
Hoping to facilitate collaboration and communication among workers who'd rather be seen than read, Google believes office employees steeped in social computing are ready for an easier way to store and distribute corporate video.
Google Video for business will be available as a new tab in Google Apps Premier Edition ($50 per user annually) accounts at no extra charge. It includes 3GB of video storage per user. Google Apps administrators can enable the service through their Google Apps control panel.
Google Video for business offers a way for individuals or groups to share videos, tag them, and embed them in internal Web pages. It provides the infrastructure necessary to search videos, restrict access to them, rate them, comment on them, and download them for offline viewing.
In a video, Dave Girouard, president of Google's enterprise division, describes corporate video as a "zero-billion dollar market," something that has never really taken off but has lots of potential. The reason, he said, is that video products remain "far too complex and far too expensive for most companies to adopt them."
Google Video for business, he said, "is a product that's distinctly easier and far less expensive than anything that's ever been available on the market."
Astute Google watchers will note that this is not the first time that the company has used the terms "easier" and "less expensive" to describe its products.
Even so, Google's marketing appears to be working. Google claims to have over 500,000 businesses using Google Apps, with more than 3,000 new businesses signing up every day.
Although Google isn't yet ready to disclose how much money it's making from Google Apps, a company spokesperson insisted Google Apps is profitable, even if that number is immaterial when compared to the company's massive ad revenue.
Google said it has more than 10 million active Google Apps users, but only "hundreds of thousands" of them -- less than 10% -- have chosen the paid Premiere Edition over the free Standard Edition.
"In principle, video is a great way to add context to and expand collaboration at a company," said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research. But she cautioned that technical issues and cost can hamper corporate video efforts. Nonetheless, she sees Google's approach having value for specific applications, like corporate training videos.
But Wettemann acknowledges that Google's work isn't done. She expects Google will have to develop and offer archiving and compliance technology for video, as the company has done with e-mail, through its acquisition of Postini.
Wettemann said business managers will have to determine whether Google Video is a tool or a toy. "Unfortunately, there are not a lot of YouTube examples that fall into the former category," she said.
Google envisions companies using Google Video for announcements from corporate leaders, training, recordings of customer site visits, and intra-employee evangelism.
Companies besotted by video may want to give a thought to bandwidth. Businesses embracing video as a form of communication on a large scale could cause network slowdowns.
But Rishi Chandra, product manager for Google Apps, said administrators can throttle usage if that gets to be problem. Most large companies have plenty of bandwidth, he said.
Google Video doesn't have to deal with the copyright issues that YouTube, as a public service provider, faces. But it will block copyrighted content recognized by Google's content identification technology.
A version of Google Video is also being made available for users of Google Apps Education Edition (free) on September 8. It will be free until March 9, 2008, when the cost will rise to $10 per user per year.
The proliferation of video-enabled portable devices and laptops with built-in Webcams assures a growing stream of video. Be warned, however, that the camera does not necessarily love everyone who loves the idea of being on-camera. And those already buried under an avalanche of e-mail may not appreciate viewing-time demands imposed by videos.
But given the right circumstances, Google Video for business might just open up whole new avenues of collaboration and communication.