Tech Headlines for November 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Google Launches Helpouts 

What if getting help for a computer glitch, a leaky pipe, or a homework problem was as easy as clicking a button? What if you could connect via real-time video to an expert from the comfort of your home or office? What if you could get someone knowledgeable to get you “unstuck” when you really need it? 

On November 5, 2013, Google launched Helpouts—a new way to get and give help over live video. Helpouts is Google’s fusion of Google+ Hangouts, Google Wallet, and its identity tools. A “Helpout” is a Hangout-like video chat, but instead of speaking with a friend, you are connected to a purported expert in whatever it is that you need help with. The tagline that Google has come up with for Helpouts is “real help from real people in real time.” 

"Google's mission is to organize the world's useful information," said vice president of engineering Udi Manber as he introduced the service to members of the media. "But if you do search for a long time, you realize most of the world's useful information still resides in people's heads. This opens the door." 

According to Manber, in a blog post late Monday, Google Helpouts wants “to use the convenience and efficiency of the web to enable everyone, no matter where they are or what time it is, to easily connect with someone who can help.”

With Helpouts, you can choose who you get help from based on their qualifications, their availability, their price, their ratings and reviews. You can connect instantly or book in advance. You can get help from individuals or from brands you already know and trust, like Sephora, One Medical, Weight Watchers, Redbeacon (a Home Depot company), and Rosetta Stone. Once you’re in a Helpout, you can do more than just talk—you can share your computer screen, collaboratively edit a presentation, or record your Helpout. And if the experience doesn’t meet your expectations, we offer a full money back guarantee.

Google Helpouts is starting small and in a few categories. The number of people giving help on Helpouts and the type of help available will grow over time. Helpouts may not be suitable for every occasion, and it will take time to get used to interactions via real time video. But Google hopes that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people’s lives easier in the long term. 

More important, the venture may prove useful as model for some corporate learning efforts. 

MOOCs Lead List of Hot Topics at Educause Meeting 

In this video, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Megan O’Neil reports from the 2013 Educause conference. 

Visit the Chronicle of Higher Education’s  website if you are having trouble viewing the video.

Mobile Passing PCs


While the desktop computer may still have the greatest reach among U.S. Web users, time spent accessing the Internet via mobile has surpassed time spent on the personal computer, according to research from mobile ad network Jumptap and comScore. This is in keeping with eMarketer’s findings, which estimate that this year, for the first time, time spent on non-voice mobile activities will surpass time spent online on desktops and laptops.

Key findings: 

  • The amount of time women 25 to 49 years old spent on the smartphone and tablet reached more than 60 percent, while for men in that age range, the computer remained the platform where they spent more than half their online time.
  • 18- to 24-year-olds spend 50 percent of their total Internet time accessing via smartphones and only 41% accessing via computers.
  • Females 25 to 49 also spend 50% of their total Internet time accessing via smartphones and only 39 percent accessing via computers.
  • Among males and females age 50 and older, 59 percent of total Internet access is via computers while only 25 percent is via smartphones.
  • Computers are still the favorite for accessing the Internet, 49 percent to 39 percent over smartphones. The remainder of Internet access is via tablets.

Middle East Mobile Learning Revenues to Double by 2017

The revenues for mobile learning products in the Middle East reached $88.3 million in 2012, according to the new report by Ambient Insight, "The 2012-2017 Middle East Mobile learning Market." The five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the region is a solid 18.4 percent and revenues will more than double to $205.4 million by 2017.

Forecasts for 12 countries are included in this regional report: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.

"Nine of these 12 countries have significantly higher growth rates than the aggregate growth rate of 18.4% for the region. Six countries even have growth rates over 50 percent," reports Sam S. Adkins, chief research officer. "This indicates that the Middle East is a vibrant new mobile learning market with room to grow mobile learning is entering a boom phase in this region and revenues will spike during the forecast period."

There are two sections in this report: a demand-side analysis by country and a supply-side analysis by product. The demand-side analysis provides insight into the buying behaviors specific to the twelve countries analyzed in this report and identifies the top buying segments in each of those countries. Over 90 suppliers in specific countries in the Middle East are cited in this report.

The supply-side section provides revenue forecasts for five types of mobile learning products and services including: packaged content, value-added services (VAS), custom content development services, authoring tools and learning platforms, and personal learning devices (PLDs).

"Packaged Mobile learning content will generate the highest revenues in the Middle East throughout the forecast period," comments CEO Tyson Greer. "What's interesting is the difference in demand for educational apps from country to country, particularly in countries with large foreign guest worker and expatriate populations. This report identifies the types of Mobile learning apps and edugames that generate the highest revenues in each country."

Ambient Insight has identified four major catalysts in the booming Middle East Mobile Learning market: consumer demand for mobile learning apps and mobile learning VAS products, large-scale deployments of tablets in the academic segments, countrywide content digitization efforts across the primary and secondary school systems, and the rapid adoption of mobile learning in the higher education segments.

"These catalysts have not only created a massive demand for packaged content, but also a substantial demand for custom content development services in the academic segments," adds Adkins. "For example, the five-year growth rate for custom content development services in the Middle East is 39.9 percent, which is the highest growth rate for custom services for any region in the world. Revenues for custom content development services in the region will triple by 2017."

The free Abstract is available at

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About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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