TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm describes them like this.
Helpouts, Google’s fusion of Google+ Hangouts, Google Wallet, and its identity tools is now live. 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.”
Imagine a video chat session that you are paying for, that lasts for as little as a minute or two. You have an issue, say, what is this lump on my hand, or, how do I pull off a particular makeup trick, and have a quick chat with a person who can see what your problem is.
Could be pretty handy but there are SO many questions about the reliability of the service more so from a technical point of view than from the ‘experts’ themselves. The biggest question is whether you would pay for this assistance or not.
Helpouts are not Hangouts and Google wants that distinction to be clear. What’s not so clear is ho Helpouts will be able to scale in the futre or if there is even a real audience for this kind of service. Seems to me that this might be one of those offerings that sounds remarkable in theory but might simply not be very realistic. It wouldn’t be the first time Google outkicked its coverage, so to speak.
Would you use a service like Helpouts? Why or why not?