Updated: Google is shutting down its Google Helpouts service on April 20, 2015, the service’s website has now been updated to reflect.
Earlier this morning, we noticed the mobile applications for Google Helpouts, Google’s service that uses Google Hangouts video chat to connect consumers with experts online, had disappeared from both Google Play and iTunes. The apps were a later addition to Helpouts, with the iOS version launching last spring, following the late 2013 arrival of Helpouts itself, and were designed to allow users to book and participate in video chat sessions right from their mobile device.
The idea with Helpouts has been to leverage Google’s identity tools, payment technologies and online video service in order to provide web users with both free and paid advice and support sessions covering a range of topics. Today, the Helpouts website continues to work, offering sessions on topics like Photography, Parenting, Fashion and Beauty, Cooking and much more. Unfortunately for Google, much of this sort of advice is already available for free on its other video site, YouTube. While YouTube videos may not connect you with a live person in real-time, they can often give you the answers you’re looking for, and YouTube’s advertisements help the videos’ creators generate additional income.
Google’s Helpouts service has not been without its challenges on the monetization front, either. A couple of months ago, Google had to shut down paid Helpouts in the EU thanks to changing tax laws. Today, the website advises providers from the U.K. and Ireland that they may only offer free Helpouts, and EU customers may only take free Helpouts. That’s likely been a blow to the service’s ability to attract providers and consumers in these markets.
Meanwhile, the Helpouts mobile applications themselves were far from popular. Although they saw some gains at first launch – probably out of initial curiosity – the highest rank the iOS app ever achieved was #95 in the Lifestyle category on iTunes. The Android version fared only a little better, climbing to #29 on Google Play shortly after its debut. Before being pulled out of the stores, however, both the iOS app and Android version were unrated according to App Annie, meaning they had both fallen below #1,500 on any app store category.
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SOURCE: Tech Crunch, Sarah Perez