Google launches paid Helpout video service
Google has launched a service that lets consumers pay for live video chats with experts who can provide everything from step-by-step turkey cooking instructions to marriage counselling.
The Google Helpouts service features roughly 1,000 partners in fashion, fitness, computers and other topics, available for live, one-on-one video consultations.
The video sessions can be as short as a few minutes or can last several hours, depending on the topic, with pricing set by each individual provider.
The video consultations represent an expansion of Google's traditional web search service, which for years has answered consumers' questions by pointing people to the most appropriate web page.
While Google remains the world's top internet search engine, consumers are increasingly turning to social networks like Facebook to get advice and recommendations from their friends about movies, restaurants and other topics.
"Most of the world's useful information still resides in people's heads," Udi Manber, vice-president of engineering at Google, said. Helpouts "opens the door to that information as well".
Google will take 20pc of the fee that the providers collect for the video chats, though Google is initially waving the fee for providers in the health category.