Ciccarelli, a part-time competitor in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, took to Facebook Wednesday, saying it has been a “fun ride and dream come true,” but that he disagreed with the direction the sport is heading.
“I don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love,” he posted. “I could care less about the Confederate Flag, but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is (expletive) one group to cater to another and i ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!!”
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced it was banning any images or displays of the Confederate flag at all of its events. The move came one day after Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the sport, called for the flag to be banned.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said in a statement. “Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Google Meet, Google’s newest video chat service, will soon be free for everyone. The service, which was previously locked behind G Suite, is opening up to anyone with a Google account.
Users will be able to access the service at meet.google.com or through the iOS and Android apps. While the service is free now, it won’t be free forever. Google says that, after September 30, meetings will be limited to 60 minutes.
If you’ve never heard of “Google Meet” before, don’t feel bad. The branding only popped up earlier this month, when Google quietly renamed “Google Hangouts Meet” to “Google Meet.” Hangouts Meet is something we’ve written about before, and it launched in 2017 as a reboot to Google’s enterprise messaging suite, which consisted of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Both of these 2017 enterprise “Hangouts” products have no relation to the widely used, consumer-focused “Google Hangouts” chat app from 2013, which is still part of Gmail and was a default Android app for a long time. Google claims it wants to merge all the “Hangouts” products together, but you can never be sure what the future of Google’s disorganized messaging strategy will hold.
Just like with its instant messaging strategy over the years, Google has really dropped the ball when it comes to video conferencing apps. Google’s first efforts in video chat started with a Gmail video chat in 2008 and peaked with Google Hangouts video chat in 2013. Google has been in video chat for longer than most of its contemporary competition (other than Skype), but a lack of focus and a continual need to shut down one product and then launch a similar product under a different name left the company spinning its wheels for years. If Google could focus and put the company’s massive resources behind a single communication suite that is continually updated and maintained, it could have been an industry leader by now. Instead, Google Meet will be Google’s third video chat service in the market, after Google Hangouts and Google Duo.
Employees inside the company are apparently frustrated with Google’s market position, too. A recent article from The New York Times details how tech giants like Google and Facebook are chasing Zoom, and it ends with a great anecdote:
Late last month, Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, held a videoconference with thousands of the search giant’s employees using Google Meet, three people who attended the call said. During the session, one employee asked why Zoom was reaping the biggest benefits even though Google had long offered Meet.
Mr. Schindler tried placating the engineer’s concerns, the people said. Then his young son stumbled into view of the camera and asked if his father was talking to his co-workers on Zoom. Mr. Schindler tried correcting him, but the boy went on to say how much he and his friends loved using Zoom.
COVID-19’s shelter-in-place requirements made millions of people turn to working from home. That led to a huge spike in video chat users, but this general availability of Google Meet already seems like it was too late to ride this wave of users. The work-from-home trend started two months ago when Google Meet was still locked behind the GSuite paywall. Zoom was ready and burst into the public consciousness as a result. By now, it seems like most of the people who were going to transition to a video chat app have already done so, and they picked Zoom.
Google doesn’t have a strong argument for why someone would switch from Zoom, either. Google alludes to better security in its blog post, but neither Zoom nor Google Meet is end-to-end encrypted. Both are only “encrypted in transit,” which anyone who uses an HTTPS connection can claim. Your conversation might be private from the wider Internet, but it’s possible that the service provider can view your meeting data. Participating in a meeting also requires a Google account, while Zoom makes it possible to join a meeting without any account at all. Zoom can secure a meeting with only a password, giving it a much lower barrier to entry.
Like most Google launches, not everyone will get access to Google Meet immediately. Google says that availability for Google Meet will slowly roll out to users “over the following weeks.”