Before the pandemic, Google Meet was practically a residual service. Instead, the protagonist of what is now Meet was Google Hangouts (which has little left), the platform with which Google wanted to provide a modern successor to Google Talk and compete against WhatsApp, but which in the end remained a solution for video calls and group conversations.
With the confinement, things changed, and Google made free Gmail accounts have unlimited access to video calls, with no time limit. It was also a way to get ahead of the other big player in video calling in 2020, Zoom. Initially, the measure was taken until September, but at that time, the Mountain View company extended the deadline to today, the last day of March. Now, that deadline has been extended again.
Google has again extended the deadline until June 2021. They have not explained the reason for the extension, but it is logical to think that the company observes that its video call traffic is still very high and for many people who probably do not pay for the service, as there are very good free alternatives. After that period, free calls will have a maximum duration of 60 minutes.
To try to keep people on the Meet boat, Google has been working hard on the service since March of last year. As we said, it started out as something practically residual that in many cases was only used because Calendar assigned it as the default service when making appointments. Over time, it has been gaining features such as noise cancellation, background blur, grid view for many participants, etc.
The same has been experienced by other industry players. WhatsApp started confinement with just four people per video call and expanded that number. Microsoft Teams started out as more of an enterprise than global player, and is now key in the education sector thanks to its arrival with Office 365, available for free at many universities and colleges. Along the way, giants like Skype have lost relevance in favor of these. A situation that has shown that either you keep up the innovative pace, or you get left behind, once again.