Google launched on July 24 a bunch of new products and services (the $35 Chromecast TV viewer was the coolest) aimed at the consumer space, where the combination of Android phones and tablets, Google services and the Chrome system are enjoying growth.
While I was watching the press conference—via YouTube, which was done really well by the way—it was the business space for this Google confederacy that was on my mind.
The tablet is now the go-to-device for business executives. The portability, long battery life and low price have pushed tablets to replace laptops, cash registers and conference rooms as the place to get business accomplished.
The Nexus 7 continues and expands on this trend by offering a sub-$300 high-screen resolution tablet with a powerful CPU that has the potential to make the precipitous PC and laptop fall-off even more so. A week after Microsoft took a $900 million write-off for coming out with a tablet clunker, the Nexus 7 looks like an example of how to do it right. I haven’t worked with one yet, but in demo it had the screen resolution, sound and performance to be a permanent business companion.
The Nexus 7 comes in three models with 16 to 32GB, along with 2GB of internal RAM and an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor. Google is also offering a 4G LTE version with mobile connectivity from Verizon and T-Mobile. You can get the full specifications here, but 7 refers to the screen size and fits between the 4- and 10-inch models.
The Android operating system was upgraded to version 4.3, which includes additional user profile restrictions (which are important to enterprise deployments) and Bluetooth power-saving capabilities, but was not a major OS upgrade.
While the demonstration of Google Hangouts was goofy in having a group collaborate on a vacation menu planning exercise (really?), the Hangout feature is one of those products that has yet to catch on in business.
But Hangouts have the potential to disrupt video conferencing, improve corporate team development and spur the creation of efficient, dispersed organizations. The Hangout with whiteboarding, text editing and access controls is part of the Google focus on collaborative activities, which is really what business is all about.
The Chromecast viewer plugs into a TV HDMI port and may finally mark the end of inscrutable remote control devices. The bigger and more important piece of Chromecast is the ability to control the TV with multiple of devices (including Apple iOS) while pulling the video stream from the cloud instead of making it hop through the device.
Nexus 7, Chromecast, Google Hangouts Mean Big Business
The implication for business is Google narrowing in on the goal of allowing any device to access a service, rather than the more traditional vendor approach of tying services to particular devices.
The bigger implication from watching the news conference stream on YouTube, viewing the video capabilities of the Nexus 7 and Chromecast, and watching the Hangout demo is the commanding role video now plays.
Businesses have been slow on the video uptake. Text documents, email messages and conference room meetings are still the business norm. Only recently have companies such as Yahoo seen the value of presenting their quarterly financial reports in a professional video format.
The Nexus 7 press conference was free of video stutter, included professional lighting and appropriately framed screen angles with audio that was rich and easy to hear and video that was clear on a range of devices.
Companies that stick a single camera in front of a podium and call it a video press conference do a disservice to their brand. Business customers these days want to see video product demos, see a real person on the end of the help line and have a live experience with the company even if they are thousands of miles away.
If your business still relegates video to amateurish, poorly shot talking head blogs, you are only harming your business and your customers. It isn’t the Nexus 7, Chromecast and Google services individually that will make for product success, but the interplay of all those devices and services coming together.
Of course, Google would like to drive more video viewing as that is where the new mobile advertising dollar resides, but video has moved to the top of media priority list for Google, and it should be in that place for your company also.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.