Google Pulls Plug on Helpouts Video Service Months After Launch

Google has decided to shut down its expert help video service on April 20 only 15 months after launching due to a lack of user interest.

Google Helpout 2

Google has decided to pull the plug on its Helpouts expert help video service barely 15 months after launching it.

The company will shut down the service on April 20 because of what it described as a lack of market interest.

"Since launching in 2013, Helpouts has been a home for people to connect with experts on topics they want to learn about or seek advice and solutions to everyday problems," Google said in a farewell note on the site.

"The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn't grown at the pace we had expected," Google said of its decision to shut down the project.

Google launched Helpouts in November 2013 as a way for people to get live video help online from selected experts like teachers, doctors, home repair specialists and counselors. The company pitched it as a convenient way for people to get expert advice on everything from figuring out how to fix a garage door and removing a computer virus to drawing cartoons and learning conversational French.

"What if getting help for a computer glitch, a leaky pipe, or a homework problem was as easy as clicking a button?" Google Vice President of Engineering Udi Manber had asked at that time.

Helpouts basically allows users to get help from the people whom they choose based on factors like qualifications, experience, availability and price. Presently, it offers a set of free and paid services in areas such as art and music, computers and electronics, cooking, fitness and nutrition and health.

Users can get help either from the Helpouts marketplace or via Helpouts on partner sites.

Those providing expert help via the Helpouts marketplace are not affiliated with Google and include individuals as well as businesses. The actual help itself is delivered through a live video session on Google Hangouts. Users can record the hangout with the provider's permission and save the session in the photos section of their Google+ profile, according to a description of the service.

Providers set the pricing, and all payments are made via Google Wallet. Users can rate and review the quality of the service they receive and Google offers a full money-back guarantee to users unimpressed with the help they receive.

Google also offered a Helpouts service on its Google Developers Website, XDA Developers site and Code Project, though it is not immediately clear if that service is still available. Last year, Google introduced a Helpouts for the Small Business Community that it pitched as a way for businesses to find resources on various topics quickly and efficiently.

In deciding to shutter Helpouts, Google has consigned the service to the same fate as Google Answers, a somewhat similar concept that it launched in 2002 and retired in 2006. In 2012, Google also retired a similar service called Knol that it launched in 2007 as a place for authors to collaborate on articles about topics on which they were experts.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.