Meeting online with Google+

Google is going social. Now it is hard to come up with revolutionary concepts when others like Facebook have brought social networking to near perfection and solutions like Skype make you wonder how video chatting could be any easier. Google+ aims at providing all these services, manageable under one convenient location.

Since we focus on web conferencing we checked how easy it is to conduct meetings online with our Google+ test account. At the moment a Google+ participant can invite you to “hang out”. You will see this invitation posted on your Google+ account only, meaning there are no email invitations currently available.

So we hung out and checked which features Google+ provides. Video is easy and performs well. You also have a text chat option. The YouTube button is a nice touch, but it is still not working properly, i.e. not everyone can see the video – but that most likely has to do with Google still refining its service.

The bottom line for us is: Video, audio, and text chats are there which allow for rudimentary online collaboration. The fact that you need to be a member of the service and logged in to participate is a minus considering that for online meetings you want to have a barrier free experience rather than forcing every participant to open an account before joining a meeting. Screen sharing is what we definitely would expect to be added next. Throw in email notifications and the possibility to schedule meetings and we’re talking. But currently, Google+ really only is a place to hang out. And even with all those features added it just might not be the tool of choice for web conferencing.

Salesforce.com acquires Dimdim and leaves its users less than happy

We received some angry emails from Dimdim users in the last couple of days. What happened? Well, as has been published widely throughout the Net Salesforce.com has acquired Dimdim and thus now owns a very advanced web conferencing technology. Dimdim had made it to number 8 in our comparison of web conferencing solutions.

As Salesforce.com states on its website, one of the major reasons for the acquisition was

to bring new real-time communication capabilities to the Chatter collaboration platform, mirroring the proven Facebook model of combining collaboration and communication into an integrated service.

So it is once again Facebook that is driving innovation and tempting other – in this case admittedly powerful – online players to copy or emulate its services. And a “corporate Facebook” really is an intriguing idea, so we will be following the developments closely.

But this didn’t cause the angry emails mentioned above. These were triggered by a Dimdim ‘service mail’ informing all users of their online meeting software that the company will no longer provide its services after March 15 – even for paying customers. Only those users with a yearly subscription will be able to use the service until the contractually agreed upon end date. How good customer service will remain after March 15 we shall have to see.

However, cutting off all services with a three month notice to customers is not really a good move, considering that all uploaded documents will no longer be accessible after the shutdown, which means that users have to make sure to download everything they might need on time. For other info on the consequences for customers you can check out Dimdim’s FAQs on the subject.

Since the service is no longer continued we will remove Dimdim from our ranking of online meeting tools. We will keep you informed about further consequences and invite all Dimdim users to check out our list of online meeting solutions for a suitable replacement.

drop.io has been purchased by Facebook and will discontinue its services

drop-io is a file-sharing service that will now be closing its doors due to acquisition by Facebook. All users of this service are recommended to download data stored on the service’s platform until December 15, since it will be deleted afterwards. Here are some more details.

The software had ranked low in our comparison of online meeting tools and we have now removed it from the overview entirely.