Google Launches "Helpouts" to Connect People to Experts

In its latest innovation, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  on Tuesday launched its Helpouts service, which connects users to experts in specific areas through video conferencing.

The fee-based service has experts in art and music, computers and electronics, cooking, education and careers, fashion and beauty, fitness and nutrition, health, and home and garden who are available at a flat rate per session (known as a "Helpout") or a flat rate per minute. The service allows users to pick an expert adviser based on qualifications, price, availability, and their Helpout ratings and reviews. Google has also partnered with corporate brands like Sephora, Weight Watchers, Home Depot's Redbeacon, and Rosetta Stone, which provide Helpouts in their respective fields.

Google allows users to not only video conference with one another, but also share screens, edit presentations, and record the Helpout for future reference. Udi Manber, Google vice president for engineering, noted of the service: "Our goal is simple: help people help each other. We want to use the convenience and efficiency of the web to enable everyone, no matter where they are or what time it is, to easily connect with someone who can help."

Google is offering a 100% money back guarantee to users who access the service, and requires that all payments be made through Google Wallet. It will also charge a 20% transaction fee to each provider of a Helpout to cover "credit card fees, the cost of offering users a 100% Money Back Guarantee, paid advertising and promotion, and the cost of running Helpouts." To start, only select users can provide Helpouts, and Google is allowing users to request an invitation code so they may offer their services.

"Today is just the beginning," Manber concluded in a Google blog post. "We're starting small and in a few categories. The number of people giving help on Helpouts and the type of help available will grow over time. ... We hope that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people's lives easier in the long term."


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