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Skype vs Google+ Hangouts, a business perspective


Skype v Hangouts, a business perspective

Skype or Hangout? Which cloud solution first pops to mind when you need to collaborate with others? One of the many advantages of cloud computing is the array of great business level video conferencing applications that are now available.

Skype is a great quick and easy option, offering free and paid for versions where you simply click on a persons name and off you go. It’s also possible to make cheaper-rate calls to global landlines and mobiles and the solution comes with option to download the management console, Skype Manager. It is worth remembering though that you need a Premium account to chat to more than one person at a time.

Google+ Hangout is a great option too, launched straight from your mailbox or Google+ account, you get video conferencing and so much more. Free video conferencing for up to 15 people with an option to transmit ‘on air’ and a set of fully integrated apps with additional free email, calendar and social media platform. So, as they say, a bit more bang for your buck. There’s even an option to upgrade to a business account through Google Apps for Business for a mere $50 per user per year.

Each cloud application though has its pros and cons, so we’ve put together a list of what we think are the key differences between Skype and Google+ Hangouts.  

Skype vs Google+ Hangouts, a business perspective 

   Skype  Google Apps for Business

Description of the solution 

Stand-alone cloud-based online traditional and VoIP calling, video conferencing, IM and file sharing service

Included with Google+, Hangouts are a cloud-based VoIP calling, video conferencing, IM and file sharing service that integrates with a host of Google solutions; including Google Drive for face to face real time document collaboration.

For business users, Google+ comes free with Google Apps for Business 

Owned by



What do you need to get started

Create an account online and download the version of Skype appropriate for your device (PC, Mobile, Tablet etc).

Updates do not happen automatically and need to be manually installed.

A Google account with Google+ activated (either invidiual or through Google Apps), and a browser.

All updates happen automatically. 

What you get for your money (or for free) 

Some stuff is free upon signup:

  • Your account and all upgrades

  • Voice and video calls to other skype users

  • Instant messaging and file sharing

Some stuff you pay for:

  • Calls to mobiles and landlines worldwide

  • Text messages

  • Group video calls with up to 15 people

Free for everyone as Hangouts are part of Google+ (which is free) or included with the purchase of Google Apps for Business.

Hangouts give you the following:

  • Your account and all upgrades

  • Voice and video calls to other Google+ and Gmail users (Gmail functionality available through free plugin)

  • Instant messaging and file sharing

  • Private video conferencing for 10 or 15 people

  • Public video conferencing ‘on air’ streamed through your G+ page and youtube channel

  • Integrated apps that allow you to share Google Docs, YouTube videos and SlideShare whilst on a Hangout

Landline and mobile calls and text messaging is not done through Google+ Hangouts but rather at a cost through Gmail.

Account options & the costs for a business 

  • Free version with limited features

  • Pay as you go

  • Subscription plan

  • Premium account - this is probably better for business users as it includes everything the product has to offer

Business Account Cost:

The Premium account costs $56.04 per user, per year. (Landline and mobile call costs are extra) 

Free for individuals:

Hangouts are part of Google+ which is free for any individual.

Included with Google Apps for Business:

Google+ and Hangouts are included with Google Apps for Business Google’s complete cloud computing business solution.

Business Account Cost:

Total cost per user per year: $50.00 (and you get the entire Google Apps for Business Package - landline and mobile call costs are extra)

What else comes with it/additional business features

Premium account comes with these features

Skype Manager: Create accounts, allocate credit and assign features like group video calling.

If you have a certified office phone system you can Make Skype calls directly through that.

Skype Numbers: You are allocated a Skype number that anyone can call you on. Print the number on business cards or post online.

You are able to create groups - which is a particularly handy feature. This is handled through Circles on Google+.

Voice Messages: Skype will take a voice message when you’re not available

Call forwarding when you’re offline 

Hangouts come as part of Google+, and by default with Google+ you have access to either the free or business version of Google Apps.

So with Hangouts you also get your own:

  • Gmail

  • Google Calendar

  • Google Drive & Docs

  • Google Sites

  • Google+

Although the phone management features of Skype are not available through Hangouts you are getting an all in one business solution rather than just a VoIP/Phone replacement.

Google Apps for Business offers additional business benefits/functionality.



Available on all mobile and tablet devices except BlackBerry

Yes - through Google+

  • Google+ Apps available on Android and iOS

  • Available through the web browser on other devices

Call quality

Very effective and consistent - depending on your Internet connection.

Very effective and consistent - depending on your Internet connection.

Creating a video call 

Very easy. Click on a persons name within your contact list to start talking.

Starting a voice or text based chat is equally as easy. 

Very easy, with a multitude of ways to create/schedule a Hangout:

  • One click through your Gmail once you’ve installed the plugin

  • Through your Google Calendar

  • One click through your Google+ account

  • Schedule a Hangout through Calendar or Google+ Events

Number of people who can call or video conference at once 

25 people for voice calls

10 people for video calls

* Multi person calls only available through the premium account 

  • 10 people for Hangouts on the free version

  • 15 people for Hangouts on Google Apps for Business

  • You can choose whether or not you want to show your live video feed

  • Hangouts on Air are shared with the world and can be recorded and stored on YouTube

Ease of use

Intuitive and easy to use. 

Highly intuitive and arguably better than Skype. Once you’re in it’s easy to find all the tools you need, screen sharing for example. Everything is easily accessible. 

Tool Example: Screen Sharing 

Possible: Yes

You need to be in a video call to share your screen with another user. Group screen sharing is only available through the premium account option. 

Possible: Yes

  • You can share your screen with others whilst on a Hangout


  • You can create a chat room to prepare and test the screen before anyone else joins

Integrated Apps

Through Skype you are able to send files to each other.

Unfortunately no other app integration has yet been included. 

There is a great selection of optional apps you can integrate into your Hangout e.g. YouTube, Google Docs and SlideShare.

So - whilst on a Hangout you can share a Google Doc with everyone and then you can all work on that same doc together, in real time.

You can also watch video together, play games through the Google+ platform etc. 

Integration with any other solutions? 

Microsoft is starting to integrate Skype with with it’s other products and has initially focused on Lync. Further integrations in the future seems likely. 

Hangouts are part of Google+ which in turn is heavily integrated with other Google products; Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Docs), Maps and Search 


The bottom line for businesses

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a phone replacement service and cloud-based video conferencing application and you’re happy to pay over $50.00 per user per year (plus landline and mobile calls) then Skype is the solution for you. It is easy to use and simple to manage and offers all the functionality you’d expect. It’s a good solutions that works really well.

However, if you are looking for a wholly integrated video conferencing service that offers a complete cloud-based business solution for less money per year than Skype, then Google+ Hangouts through Google Apps for Business is the right choice for your business. It couples technology, collaboration and productivity in an easy to use and really rather useful package.




What about desktop sharing? This use to be free in the free Skype version. It is free in G+ Hangouts though the quality isn't ideal. The ability to share desktops is a big deal for me and how I use tools like these.
Posted @ Monday, February 25, 2013 5:32 PM by Brian Schwartz
Hi Brian,  
Desktop sharing or Screen Sharing is definitely available on both services.  
Skype: This is available in the free version on a 1-2-1 basis. To share with more than 1 person you need to have the premium account (to connect with more than one person on a call).  
Google+: This is available for free as it's included with all account types (Apps for Business and individual users)and you can choose to share with either 1 person or multiple people.  
Hope that helps!
Posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2013 1:41 AM by Annette Gardner
It maybe helpful to tell people the Google Talk Plugin powers instant chat, voice calls, 1:1 Video calls and eventually the Hangout. 
For example, Skype starts as a 1:1 video call, so does a Google 1:1 call in Gmail and/or Google+.. Opening a hangout is encouraged, but not needed. You may wish to look at the quality of the 1:1 call versus 1:1 in a Hangout. 
You may also see a comparison on bandwidth on this chart: 
So, does Skype do Audio Only? Hangouts have four levels: Normal, Low, Ultra Low and Audio Only. Hangouts can be started with as little as 0.25 meg bnadwidth..
Posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2013 5:31 AM by Mike Downes
The biggest difference between them is a little thing called Youtube
If you are using them for internal private discussion only - the choices are laid out above. If you want anyone else to see them - EG. your customers, your suppliers, the world - then it has to be Google.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2013 5:34 AM by Alastair McKenzie
My link for the bandwidth image did not format correctly, try: 
@Alastair .. You are correct, what Skype gives you is now in tandem with Microsoft (even Logitech). What is a step ahead, how Google have links into Nintendo and the ability to Hangout on a WiiU..  
Which reminds me, to compare Industrial Media to Social Media. Where the University, Corporate video systems like Tandberg are not really needed anymore.  
Posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:12 AM by Mike Downes
I've been experimenting with video conferencing using a Google+ hangout and have so far concluded the following. 
a) The user interface is confusing and nowhere near as intuitive as Skype.  
b) The hefty plugin you have to download before video conferencing on Google+ requires a much higher spec PC/laptop than the equivalent Skype desktop application. 
c) Sound and video quality is not as good as Skype - though this could be related to the need to have a high spec PC/laptop. 
So as far as video conferencing is concerned, Google+ hangouts feels like a work in progress, rather than a mature product that is going to replace Skype.
Posted @ Friday, May 03, 2013 6:14 AM by Danny Golding
Great article, but the only incorrect piece of info I see is in reference to LAN Line and Mobile calls being done at a cost through Gmail. YOU CAN call phones directly from Hangouts. If you want to make a call directly you can do that for FREE from GMAIL.
Posted @ Friday, June 14, 2013 12:48 PM by Lane Greer
Hi Lane, just to clarify - calls made from within Gmail or Hangouts to other computers/devices is absolutely free. If you wish to call from your Gmail account or Hangout to either a landline or mobile phone number there are indeed charges. A list of rates is available here:
Posted @ Tuesday, June 18, 2013 3:54 AM by Annette Gardner
Lane and Annette are both kinda correct. From Gmail/Hangouts in the USA, you can call landlines/mobile for free to USA and Canada. There are fees for international calls (beyond Canada.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:19 AM by Brian S
I find the quakity on G+ huge improvement on Skype adn ease of usse for my applciation is betetr BUT I have one important question. 
I bill my time by hours or sessions on line (I teach) but I have not yet found a way of tracking G+ sessions like Skype does with recent calls and a call log per client . Dooes G or G for busienss have sucha feature? 
Posted @ Monday, June 24, 2013 4:16 AM by John Tibbles
Hi John,  
There is currently no built in way to track video conference activity in Google+ like as in Skype. There are however many paid-for third party options available such as HangPay that give additional functionality.
Posted @ Monday, June 24, 2013 5:10 AM by Annette Gardner
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