Google Announces Foray Into Videoconferencing

It’s been some time since Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was simply a search engine. While it continues to be the core of its business, its cash reserves and insistence that its employees spend at least 10% of the time thinking outside of the box guarantees that you’re never surprised to hear that search engine giant is up to something new. Whether it’s a tablet or smartphone, Google Glass, or a car that drives itself. Google, once a one-trick pony, will never cease to provide the world with something it needs whether it knows it needs it or not.

Google’s move to video-conferencing

Not surprisingly, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled yet another product today, one designed to pull some revenue out of the coffers of corporate America. In this case at the potential expense of both Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Polycom Inc (NASDAQ:PLCM), Google is moving into videoconferencing.

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At this point, the search engine giant is just calling the system “Chromebox for meetings.” Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), said that the system was designed and is used internally at Google. “We’ve found that this works quite well for Google, and we’re happy to bring this to other companies,” he said.

Google is partnering with Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), and Asus. The latter is already the supplier for Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets.

The hardware

The system relies on four components: a new, more powerful Chromebox, based on the Intel Core i7; a 1080p HD camera module; a combination microphone/speaker; and an RF remote control. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930)’s existing Chromebox uses a Core i5 chip; the new Chromeboxes, from Asus and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), were necessary to permit the multiple, simultaneous HD streams that the new system enables—up to 15.

The first “Chromebox for meetings”, is being made by Asus and went on sale today for $999, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) said. Customers can also pay a $250 annual service and management fee, however, the first year is free with the purchase of a new unit.

The new product will utilize Hangouts for functionality.

Whether Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) will truly compete with Cisco or Polycom Inc (NASDAQ:PLCM) is the big question, one that Google is not afraid to ask.