Google executive Sundar Pichai strongly hinted that it will bring Hangouts — the video chat feature of Google+ that lets up to 10 people talk at once — to its enterprise products.This would bring Google into direct competition with companies like Cisco, which sells expensive teleconferencing equipment to big companies, and put new pressure on Microsoft, whose Lync videoconferencing software is one of its fastest-growing products.
Pichai gave the last keynote of the day at the Goldman Sachs Technology conference in San Francisco today, and a questioner from the audience asked if Google would bring Hangouts to the enterprise.
At first, he hedged a little — he didn’t talk about Hangouts specifically. But then he said that Google has a history of making any consumer product work for the enterprise as well. He added:
Hangouts is built on the YouTube infrastructure, we use it to serve billions of videos a day….Bringing that scale and that stack to the enterprise is a huge opportunity.
Pichai also spent a lot of time talking about and the competition against Microsoft, claiming that Google is seeing a lot more momentum in really big companies lately.
Just today, for instance, drug giant Roche just moved all 90,000 employees to Google Apps. Last month, Spanish financial company BBVA switched 110,000 employees to Apps.
Pichai admitted that a lot of companies who switch like this keep Office licenses as well — it’s not a zero sum game — but that’s what happens with consumers as well. You buy a new Mac or iPad, but keep your old Windows PC around…for a while.
He said that he expects full switches to accelerate as more Android and iOS devices come into enterprises, and as Google continues to close the feature gaps with Office.
This is why Microsoft should port Office to as many other platforms as it can.