back to article Google invades videoconferencing market with Chromebox for Meetings

Google is making a play for the videoconferencing market – and hoping to get ChromeOS to be more widely used – with a special version of its Chromebox desktop computer designed specifically for remote meetings. Chromebox for Meetings $1,000 – display not included "Meetings rooms haven't really changed that much for last 25 …

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Trouble is

The people making the decisions on this sort of kit have qualifications starting with CC. No blue cable means no buy-in.

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Re: Trouble is

Not strictly true in the SMB space (perhaps more so in the enterprise space).

I know of a few companies My People look after who would find this useful, but who have pooh-pooh'd most of the dedicated, far pricier gear because of cost.

This seems pretty damned cheap by comparison, and if it works as advertised, could well crap all over the existing teleconferencing space - at least outside of places that have six figure IT budgets.

Certainly looks like being worth adding to The List should someone ask about videoconferencing - looks like being a step above a laptop and Skype/GApps in the boardroom, especially if it can be used without calling in the IT guy to make sure it's setup properly, etc - usability is the key.

If it's easy to use, and even half the price of the cisco kit, the sub-enterprise, but still pretty global space, will eat it up.

Steven R

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trouble is

These days, it's more qualifications starting with 'MC'.....Microsoft already took the #1 spot in UC sales from Cisco last year...

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Maybe these are just the cries of a man hopelessly left behind by modern technology and business practices but it still amazes me that a company whose main source of revenue comes from mining user data and using that to display ads actually manages to get anyone to pay to use their services.

I realise that, in using a paid Google apps/mail account, you don't see the ads that are shown to free users but to think that the data isn't being scraped all the same is naive. Moreover, it's probably even more valuable to them as there is even more information.

Of course, this may end up to be a great product, functionality and cost wise.

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Why pay for Google?

I actually know the answer to this one. For far too long the business model of selling technology to businesspeople has been "baffle them with BS". It drives huge margins when said people overpay. Maintaining high barriers to entry shield this berry patch from startups. Google casts about for high margin value systems like this to disrupt. They would not even consider doing anything if it was not disruptive. They have huge cash flows, so a high entry barrier to someone else is to them a tiny crack in the sidewalk.

Then with their superior technical prowess they deliver faster, more efficient systems. This by itself would of course never get anywhere, as people tend to stay with the familiar or poular even in the face of the obviously technically superior. Here is where the strategy to only compete where you can be disruptive comes in. Google has one weird trick. It's a forbidden occult technique for warping the minds of buyers, persuading them to make your product their own. They don't teach it in business school. Corporate America is doing their best to have it banned as anticompetitive. But Google brazenly uses this abhorrent strategy in full view of the public.

It's called "value for money."

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I pity the fool that mines our video conference meetings for inteligence (or inteligent) data

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Re: Why pay for Google?

Personally, I like Google a lot. I use their search and gmail products mostly, but also put the charity I work for onto Google's Grants, now Google for non profits, scheme to get free google adwords ads. Yeah, I'd imagine Google get a lovely tax break for this, but it also opens up advertising for us, where we otherwise couldn't afford to. This is one example of a genuinely good thing they do, that their competitors, namely Bing, categorically do not do. I know, I've enquired.

Regarding my gmail use, I own numerous domains of my own, one or two of which I use for 'serious' emails. The gmail account is used for the trivial stuff that has no financial or career ties or anything I would regard as serious. I wouldn't imagine Google can get much of a profile on me from what passes through that account and if they can, then good luck to them and it makes even bigger suckers of those willing to pay for that information for marketing purposes.

Yeah, they're frighteningly huge and minted now and have the potential to have grave effects on society, mainly in the online / digital arena, but maybe naively, I don't see that happening in mine or my children's lifetimes. Not from Google, at least.

Am I missing something big here? Why do so many have such a dark and grave view of the chocolate factory? I'm really rather keen on them and feel we have a lot to thank the company for. I genuinely feel it would be a poorer world if Google had never been conceived, if not for what they have given us themselves, but for the innovation and competition that they have created, directly and indirectly.

I would love to hear why my view on them is so wrong, if that be the case.

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Re: Why pay for Google?

What an absolute load of tosh Mikel. You really have drunk the google cool aid haven't you?

There is nothing remotely 'value for money' in having Goggle spy on every conversation your company makes over video conference, before selling the data they capture to your companies competitors.

Because that is what Google do. They capture information about users of their products and exploit it for their own commercial gain.

Your naivety shocks me and I worry that you would actually consider PAYING google to use this service?

I guess you are one of those people that thinks google can do no wrong because they are an 'open source' company? If that is the case, they really have taken you for a sucker!!!

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Re: Why pay for Google?

@Mikel

Thanks for the response but when I read "Google has one weird trick" I just couldn't not think of those jiggling ads you see all about the web: "Use this one weird trick to lose weight/make women sleep with you/cure diabetes/enlarge you what-not".

Unless that was a clever bit of word play on your part, implying that their 'one weird trick' is in fact simply spewing advertisements all over the place. In which case, well played, sir.

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Re: Why pay for Google?

MS Rocks - you can talk about koolaid all you want, but that doesn't in and of itself make Mikels point any less valid/invalid.

What people see with Google are compelling products at what they consider to be a good price - whether they know about the data mining side of it is part of that, sure, but I'm pretty well versed in the interwebs, I know about the data mining side of it, and I'm fairly comfortable with it, knowing pretty much what can be taken from it and how it can be used.

It's called a compromise, and if a product is good enough, people will accept it.

It's really no more complicated than that. If you have evidence that what Google do is utterly amoral to a degree that most of us in the know aren't already aware of, please feel free to publicise it - you could bring them down if it's juicy enough.

Don't be surprised if the rest of us just go 'meh' and go googling for cheap gin and porn, though.

FWIW, I've been thinking for a while that the ad-revenue, data mining model simply has to collapse at some point (consider it the second web bubble economy - if adblocking hits a certain critical mass, or the value of advertising falls through the floor as people realise that no-one actually pays attention to them, etc, it'll pop and half the web as we know it will disappear like *that*) at which point we'll see if Google has the chops to survive without it's main revenue source.

That, I believe, will be an interesting day.

Steven R

Edit to say if anyone wants to poke holes in the above that don't involve conspiracy theories, feel free - every day is a schoolday, etc.

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Re: Why pay for Google?

@dan1980 - Yes, I was going with a bit of deliberate irony there. It seems I didn't overdo it. Good. There is no reason not to include a bit of fun here. So many apparently only come to spew bile.

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Re: Why pay for Google? to have all your bases

The elephant in any room involving Google is privacy and their record much like the elephant stinks. Would anybody discussing commercially sensitive information really trust them not to be trawling through communications in the way they routinely do with every product they produce? like that elephant its not going to fly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why pay for Google? to have all your bases

--"There is nothing remotely 'value for money' in having Goggle spy on every conversation your company makes over video conference, before selling the data they capture to your companies competitors."

--"Would anybody discussing commercially sensitive information really trust them not to be trawling through communications in the way they routinely do with every product they produce"

I don't believe that Google has ever done this. Do you have anyone who has ever stated they have?

"trawling through" suggests they have teams of people reading your comms to see what you are doing. Nothing I have ever seen from Google in terms of analytics, advertising etc ever suggests anything other than summarising data or real-time serving of data based on profiles.

In fact they aren't great at that because the adverts I see on websites (apart from the the remarketing ones) have much to do with me and my interests and much more to do with the site I am on.

In fact could this FUD about "trawling through" data be good for Google as it makes advertisers think Google know more about individual customers and about targeting your ad than they really offer? It certainly doesn't seem to have harmed their advertising revenue!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why pay for Google? to have all your bases

"Would anybody discussing commercially sensitive information really trust them not to be trawling through communications?"

That I understand, Yahoo uses Google Apps.

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Devil

Meetings rooms haven't really changed that much for last 25 years

Now with available with added NSA industrial espionage.

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How many advert breaks will the meetings have

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p.s. The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Re: How many advert breaks will the meetings have

If most videoconferencing is like anything I have to put up with, then people will welcome the advert breaks as the highlight of the whole conference. Company X flogging their wares or some guy reading out numbers, I'll take the former thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

The problem with Video Conference adoption is still bandwidth

Having recently experienced modern video conferencing at both a global company and a telco, the difference was like night and day, the system at the company paying for bandwidth was almost unusable due to over compression of video signals and slow screen refresh, at the telco (who were using their own network) it worked really well........

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Re: The problem with Video Conference adoption is still bandwidth

Google solved this. They have their own video encoding and streaming technology that is far superior to anything you have seen so far. It's called VP9.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem with Video Conference adoption is still bandwidth

VP9 superior? LOL. No. You get what you pay for....

http://iphome.hhi.de/marpe/download/Performance_HEVC_VP9_X264_PCS_2013_preprint.pdf

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We just installed a new teleconference system, priority one : confidentiality. Google does not understand the meaning of this word, except when it relates to them.

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Anonymous Coward

So what brand is this new system you have that has guaranteed confidentiality?

It would have to be from a company that is not based in the US (or China perhaps). Doesn't have any of it's own servers interacting with it to set up the link, doesn't run on any Microsoft software, has not had any of the links between you and the caller routed through a national ISP.

I'm guessing it is an end to end solution using a line you have tunnelled yourself to the branch offices and then encased in concrete using software you wrote yourselves?

Or can paranoia and tin-foil hat wearing only apply when you mention Google?

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Pareto-optimal

Video just doesn't add much value to a tele-conference. Seeing other people's faces is actually quite distracting.

Screen-sharing does add value. For that it's better to be at your desk and at your computer, rather than in a dedicated conference room.

Voice quality is another issue - people in video-conferencing rooms forget that they still need to speak into the microphone, and the sound ends up worse.

2014 will be the year of video-conferencing, just like it will be the year of Linux on the desktop.

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NAT so were good

Inside the same network or with long term partners IP videoconf works well. H323 or SIP, fine.

When you want to call H323 to H323 between companies you have to go through the firewall and NAT. The equipment inside the company is on private addresses eg 10, or 192, or 172 .

Calling out to the internet is fine. The firewall sees the inside starting the session and keeps track of what is going on and so it is able swaps private for public addresses on the fly as necessary. Calling into a private address from Internet only works if the firewall knows were to send the traffic!

But H323 and SIP use multiple sessions, both incoming and outgoing and the firewall will not automatically sort it. Too awkward to set manually in house. If you route all call via a service provider the the setup gets easier, but it is tens of thousands of dollars a year. Now Skype is in TV I use as a video conf monitor, it is just easier to forget VideoConf for external calls. Or I use good old fashioned ISDN, but the quality is lower than Skype but the addressing is old fashioned phone numbers. Phones just work.

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Re: NAT so were good

None of this is actually a problem if you know what you're doing. I'm sorry to sound harsh - I don't mean to be, but that's the truth - it's easy to configure if you understand your firewall.

And of course if you don't all the main vendors have firewall traversal solutions (eg: LifeSize Transit).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NAT so were good

Wow I'm surprised someone is bringing up an issue of how to access a "server" that sits behind a NAT firewall in 2014? This was pretty much resolved even before IPv6 came on board.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NAT so were good

Bear in mind that H.32x are particularly bad for NAT compatibility. This isn't just a case of port forwarding - your NAT/firewall needs to proxy the traffic and translate the IPs appropriately. And you're relying on the other end to be doing the same. This is as well as all the actual protocol and video/audio codec issues that you have to deal with.

It should all be possible but in my (limited) experience it's easier to just throw the conferencing device outside of the NAT boundary and keep things simpler.

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About time

Well if it's better than that overpriced shite that Polycom throw out then I'm all for any solution that can help me avoid having to travel on blighties overcrowded tarmac abortion for a 5 minute meeting.

Bring it on I say, if they want to spy on my meetings they're welcome. In fact, to the test the water I'll regularly get the entire team to burst into a slightly altered rendition of Monty Python's Lumberjack song - 'I'm a kiddy fiddler and I'm OK' - see if that brings the feds down on me.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice idea - don't underestimate how user-unfriendly VC kit can be though. Even with posh touch-screen interfaces we still regularly see panicking senior managers come running out of VC-equipped rooms having spent some time trying - in vain - to make it work. If you could spin a one-button-and-go device then you've cracked it.

NAT is a problem. Doing it properly requires your firewall estate to be header-aware in order to do the H.323/SIP rewrite. Just using a hide NAT doesn't work, I'm afraid. And that means that perimeter firewalls may need to be upgraded, then pen-tested, then audited...that's going to be Google's achilles heel. Same as any "cloudy" provider. Militant security teams tend to trump cost savings in most sectors. Not to mention the teams of bureaucrats needed to "manage the service".

I would imagine that any service you pay a subscription for would be advert-free. Is anyone really daft enough to believe they'd try and stream adverts to corporate clients? I know people love to knock Google, but come on!

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NAT so were good

I see some folks have not actually tried to do this. An outgoing call generates incoming sessions with dynamic ports, and the addresses are also in the payload so the NAT straight forward. ,

You need to set up a trusted rendez-vous on the Internet, typically opengatekeeper in relay mode or a "firewall traversal" product or a trusted service provider. The people you are calling also need an external gatekeeper. You need to get the two external gatekeepers to talk and trust each other. There is no autodiscovery. You need to identify the endpoint you want using the name known to the destination gatekeeper. There is no global directory like DNS, and no global trust between gatekeepers so you need to telephone an expert at the other end for each call. Or... you Skype.

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Remember how simple was Netmeeting

"It should all be possible but in my (limited) experience it's easier to just throw the conferencing device outside of the NAT boundary and keep things simpler. "

I used to do this at home with Netmeeting 10 years ago. Forget the gatekeepers - great.

Only We have more Video Codec than we have internet addresses. Plus tagging the unfiltered internet into each building will not look good on the security audit! It makes it too tempting for folks to byepass the firewall. Plus, now it outside the firewall you can not use the web interface to aid people that get stuck, You need to turn it off to avoid others webbing in to watch the meeting or launching calls to spy on your meeting rooms. Plus where do you put the MCU and ISDN gateway? You need the ISDN gateway to call the folks on ISDN. Lots of government and small companies are still on ISDN as it just works like a phone. Sadly ISDN gateway are all pretty much all derived from Radvision's, and they need to talk to a gatekeeper.

It is not that is does not work, it is just too much hard work compared to phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not. Everybody else is lifting insider information?

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Realistic Security

If you are planning to hike the price of oil I would not use Skype, but if I was planning to corner the ice-cream market, Skypes encryption should be enough. The NSA may be browsing my serveres, reading my mails, and bugging my calls, and there is little I can do about it. I want privacy from my wife, my co-workers, competitors, and journalists, and they do not have access to Skype servers.

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