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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Google Meet goes free as it guns for Zoom, aims to fend off Microsoft Teams

Google is making Meets, a video conferencing service via G Suite, free and available to everyone.

Google offers Meet for free in Zoom-killer race

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Google Meet is a third of the size of Zoom in daily active users, but the search giant has a plan. Google is making Meets, a video conferencing service via G Suite, free and available to everyone.

The move comes as Google Meet has seen a surge amid the move to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom has 300 million daily active users; Google Meet has 100 million and Microsoft Teams reportedly has 44 million. Teams is a hybrid of video conferencing and a Slack competitor, but it has been deployed widely in the enterprise.

Simply put, this video conferencing battle is likely to continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic given that CFOs see remote work as a permanent fixture to some degree in the future. Google CEO Sundar Pichai talked up G Suite's traction in education as well as the enterprise on the company's earnings conference call. 

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Google bets that it can give Meet a free tier and then convert users into G Suite customers. Zoom also deploys a freemium model.

In a blog post, Google said the Meet will be rolled out gradually to more people to ensure stability. Users can sign up for notifications when Meet is available.

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Google

Google is looking to capitalize on Zoom's security woes in the last month. The issue is that Zoom remains a verb for many and the company is addressing its security woes. By making Google Meet free, the search giant may also be looking to thwart momentum from Microsoft Teams, which rides shotgun with Office 365.

The company outlined a series of security controls in Meet that include host controls to remove participants and control entry, require a Google account, encryption in transit, and no plug-ins. 

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According to Google, Meet has seen its peak daily usage grow by 30x and host three billion minutes of video meetings as well as three million new users a day. Meet free accounts for individuals include:

  • The ability to create and host meetings up to 100 people with features such as screen sharing, captions, and expanded tile layout.
  • Meeting limits of 60 minutes, but the time limit won't be enforced until after Sept. 30. Zoom's time limit for free accounts is 40 minutes, but grants extensions from time to time.
  • Free accounts require a Google account.

And for prospective G Suite customers, Google is launching an edition called G Suite Essentials, which will have Meet advanced features. Google is betting that G Suite Essentials will result in full G Suite accounts. Essentials will be free through Sept. 30.

Current G Suite customers will have free access to Meet advanced features for live streams up to 100,000 users on your domain and additional licenses without contract amendments.

For schools, Meet is included in G Suite for Education, but non-customers can sign up for free access.

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