Google has found a way to make money from video sharing — but not on YouTube. The company will add video to its paid business edition of Google Apps on Monday. In a way, Google is opening up a whole new category of online video: internal corporate video sharing.
Google Apps customers pay $50 per user per year for Gmail, Google Talk, Google Docs and other communication and collaboration tools (there is also a free version that doesn’t include customer support and APIs). Now, paid users can upload videos of up to 300 MB, with no time-length restrictions, for a total of 3GB per account and unlimited video views.
There are existing enterprise video delivery vendors aplenty, including Kontiki, Cisco and Thomson, but their tools are used for top-down communication and training. Google thinks there’s an opportunity for easy video sharing — á la YouTube — between team members for applications such as ad hoc training, product demos, and team building. Except, unlike YouTube, not just anyone will be able see these videos — access will be restricted to specific employees.
However, Google isn’t including live broadcasting or video conferencing — perhaps the most obvious and best-used video tools at most enterprises. Google acquired video-conferencing software from a Swedish company called Marratech last April, but it hasn’t made it available to enterprise customers and it’s not a part of this product. Google is only offering on-demand streaming and downloads of clips.
Users can upload videos to what looks like the Google Video player, and team members can tag, star and comment on them. There are also new features designed for long-form video, such as thumbnails of key parts of a video so viewers can skip around. Each video will also be available as an embed, part of a Google gadget and as an MPEG-4 download.
It’s good that Google is trying to think creatively about how people work together, though I’m not sure how widespread use of this particular product will be. Video-sharing sites with privacy controls normally seem to be made for families with young kids, which is quite a different use-case than coworkers. So there may be a need for a tool like this.
“It’s no longer about trying to achieve feature parity with incumbent office solutions, it’s really about transforming collaboration,” said Kuan Yong, product manager for Google Video for business and YouTube developer APIs, in an interview last week. He also made a point of saying, “It’s really cloud computing that’s enabled us to do enterprise video in a form that’s so affordable, and in a way that just works.”