Google Lets Lemon Zesters, Remodelers Charge for Lessons

Google Inc. (GOOG) is starting a live video service for users seeking expert advice on everything from zesting a lemon to patching up a hole in the wall.

Using Helpouts, Web surfers can search for experts in eight categories, including cooking and home and garden, and then pay for a live interactive video session, said Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at the Mountain View, California-based company. Some sessions will be free.

Google, which dominates Internet search, is exploring ways to keep users engaged and on its services for longer through the YouTube video site, Google+ social network and mobile applications on Android. To entice users, Google is offering a money-back guarantee for Helpouts from its more than 1,000 individuals and businesses providing lessons, including Weight Watchers International Inc. (WTW) and Rosetta Stone Inc. (RST)

Other companies are trying to crack the digital-training market. Skillshare Inc., Curious.com Inc. and Pearl.com LLC are among startups giving users access to experts in subjects such as photography, basic car repair and computer programming.

For Helpouts sessions that cost money, Google will take 20 percent of the sale. Google isn’t taking a commission for lessons related to health care. The company said it expects to expand the number of categories over time.

“With this we can open the whole world for everybody,” Manber said yesterday at a press conference. “Anytime you get stuck, with a press of a button, you connect to somebody who can answer that” question, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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