Today, Google announced the public launch of debuted Helpouts, a platform designed to help people learn from experts over Google Hangout.
The platform, which initially launched in beta in August, allows users to search for topics they're interested in, and connect to mentors who can train them, for fees charged over Google Wallet. Current categories include Art and Music, Cooking, Education and Careers, Fashion and Beauty, Fitness and Nutrition, Health, Home and Garden.
For example, in a dancing class, the student will be able to watch and learn how the dancing instructor is performing the moves, and the instructor will give live feedback over Google Hangouts.
Google will take a 20% commission (which is not applicable to the healthcare Helpouts), according to The Next Web. If the experience doesn't meet the student's expectations, the fees will be reimbursed, Google states.
Thus far, Helpouts has 1,000 experts registered. To scale in the future, the platform will offer up its application programming interface (API) to developers to “expand the scope of the service” as The Next Web reports.
In the Arab world, it's easy to see how this could immediately create a new group of entrepreneurs. How-to videos have taken the region by storm on platforms like ekeif, Disalata, and Zaytouneh, while other platforms like Nabbesh work to connect people with unique skills to jobs; ProBueno is another talent-sharing site that allows users to trade their skills for donations to their favorite charity.
Helpouts could help anyone become a competitor to these sites, although startups will have the advantage of being able to control the quality of their videos. Google's platform could, on the other hand, also help these startups boost their offerings by turning on a real-time channel.
"Fascinating to see @google move into the 'answers' space for a thirdperhaps fourthtime with Google 'Helpouts'," commented Jason Calacanis, founder of LAUNCH Ticker, a tech news site, on his blog.
As more startups and entrepreneurs are able to use Helpouts to monetize advice and coaching, a remaining challenge might be agreeing to pay Google that 20% fee. It's great for a budding entrepreneur to be able to charge $300 for a cooking class, but will students consider the real-time video interaction more effective than a local class or free how-to video on YouTube?