Is the Google ChromeBook about to become your new communications device? Is your slightly older Mac or Windows PC that can run the latest Chrome Browser able to step in and be the new desk phone? What about the Android tablet which runs Chrome and WebRTC rather well these days? While some are predicting the death of the office phone, I’m confident saying that the replacement is already here.
As more of my voice, video and collaboration type calls are taking place inside the Chrome browser, even on some newer Android tablets, the ChromeBook, because of its low price point ($199) for an entry level model, is a natural and logical consideration to replace the desk phone and if you wanted to, it really can replace the room based conferencing system. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s look at what’s now going on inside the Chrome browser and in turn why the ChromeBook may be ideal to replace the aging desk phone.
- Google Hangouts-originally a separate browser window, the video and sharing service from Big G has now become a tab. What’s more the integration of GoogleVoice to Hangouts has been around for a year, replacing GoogleTalk. This means calls to your GoogleVoice accounts come into your browser. Since GoogleVoice directs calls to Hangouts those on really solid mobile data networks will receive their calls inside Hangouts, further reducing their minutes on their mobile plans, but of course increasing their data bundle consumption. Of course being on Wi-Fi means no minutes and no data until home/office Wi-Fi gets metered.
- Calliflower-Iotum’s web based conferencing and collaboration platform was one of the first full featured platforms to embrace the browser as far back as its founding. Given co-founder and now board member Alec Saunders background with the browser, he launched Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and with the advancement of WebRTC, Calliflower was one of the first established brands to embrace the new technology.
- UberConference-GrandCentral founder Craig Walker brought UberConference to life as part of his Firespotter Labs incubation with some help from Google Ventures and then A16Z, the Andreessen Horowitz VC fund that kicked in more funding. From the start UberConference was all about the browser experience, and now they have integrated with Google Hangouts to pick up the missing video component.
- GoToMeeting for Free-recently Citrix’s GoToMeeting launched a FREE service for up to 3 users. The service is right out of the minimal clicks playbook of the late Steve Jobs. Yousimply go to the web page, click Start Your Meeting and then share the web page URL. Voice, video and screen sharing all are there. Given that three people on a conference call is the equivalent of “three-way calling” the free offer is one more way that the race to the bottom is being demonstrated.
If I add in the $35.00 ChromeCast HDMI Adapter, the 73” Samsung monitor in my living room and a ChromeBook as a full-blown conferencing system as well as being a home theatre where the streaming of television programming, movies or music from the browser already is done.
The moving of communications into the browser is here. Already it’s easy to see how it’s mirroring my behavior, and that of many others. When combined with the elimination of using mail applications like Microsoft Outlook or Apple MAIL for email and the ongoing defections from Microsoft Office in favor of Google Docs for basic writing and spreadsheet work, putting my communications inside the browser is something Mr. Spock would find, “fascinating” as it’s all just following a logical path.