Google Helpouts is meant as a way to connect customers with sage advice from ‘experts’, and has a very strong retail angle that was evident at launch. It sounds so clever and easy, but retailers and others have been slow on the uptake. Google it seems, is ready to show them just how wonderful Helpouts can be, and is working on a service that will get customers interested in Android and Chrome OS devices paired with Google Device Experts so they can ask questions and see devices ahead of purchasing.
The service, still in beta form, gets customers some virtual face-time with devices they’re interested in, but may not be able to see outside of pics and video in reviews. It’s not yet known if Google will implement this service outside of the Play Store, but it’s up and running.
It could serve as a standalone Google Play feature, where those interested in smartphones, tablets, and computers could get a little tutorial ahead of plopping down hundreds of bucks. If that were the case, we could even expect the Play Store to bring back devices that aren’t Nexus or Chrome OS branded.
Speaking to TechCrunch, a source claims it’s “Google’s virtual Genius Bar”, likening it to Apple’s in-store experience where customers can pull up a chair and get help from an actual human. In the vein of ‘support’, Amazon’s Mayday is also an apt simile, though Helpouts is video chat, typically via a desktop. Mayday pops up on-screen on your device.
To check it out, navigate to a device in the Play Store, and click the help icon in the top right. You’ll see the option for a video chat pop up. I gave it a shot, and the agent told me they were happy to show the device in question off or answer any questions I might have. To purchase, I’d need to go through the website, of course.
If Google’s goal is to move devices, this might help. To make it a worthwhile endeavor, we’d like to believe Google will bulk the Play Store out a bit when it comes to hardware, as showing off a Nexus tablet or smartphone sprinkled with a Chromebook now and then probably isn’t Google’s real goal here, should this be a service they want to keep year-round and long-term.