Google has been using its Hangouts video chat system in combination with custom hardware to run its internal video conferences for some time, to the tune of more than 10,000 Hangouts every day.
Now, it wants to enable other companies to do the same: Google announced a new $999 Hangouts for business product Thursday that includes a Chromebox, an HD camera, a microphone and speaker unit, and a remote control complete with QWERTY keyboard. In addition to the hardware costs, Google will charge businesses $250 per year for management and support.
Google’s initial package is based on the newly-announced Asus Chromebox, but the company said that it wants to release additional hardware configurations in cooperation with HP and Dell in the coming months.
With the offering, Google clearly aims to disrupt the traditional video conferencing market. In a blog post, Google’s Product Management VP Caesar Sengupta wrote:
“For the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room, they’ll be able to outfit 10 rooms—or more. CDW and SYNNEX will help bring Chromebox for meetings to customers and resellers, and Chromeboxes from HP and Dell will be available for meetings in the coming months. Later this year, we plan to launch in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.”
Google’s new offering can be used to connect to remote workers using the company’s Hangouts app on their laptops or mobile devices, but the system is also interoperable with traditional video conferencing products, thanks to a cooperation with Vidyo and UberConference.