RIP Google Hangouts, Google’s Last and Best Opportunity to Compete with iMessage

Google Hangouts is shutting down today, November 1, 2022. The phone app has been taking people out of service individually since July, but the last traces of Hangouts, a web app, are shutting down today. Hangouts was Google’s most ambitious and most popular messaging effort in a short period of time, but has since garnered 5 billion downloads, and Google continues to evolve. Google Chat, a close relative of Hangouts, should get all your messages and contacts automatically by now, but the new service is a faint shadow of the original plans for Hangouts. The closure of Hangouts is the latest chapter in the chaos of Google’s messaging history. Google Talk was released 17 years ago, but Google still doesn’t have a competitive messaging platform. One of the reasons we use Google’s 10 millionth messaging app is that we have a solid and reliable home for messaging inside Google. The 2022 messaging lineup is a good example. There’s the Google Workspace team that makes Google Chat, there’s Google’s business team that makes Slack a competitor, and there’s Google Messages, a kind of carrier-focused competitor to Apple’s iMessage that seems to have grown out of the Android team. Is the team that makes Android more important than the team that makes Gmail and the rest of the Google apps? Both have good reasons to pursue messaging, but splitting Google’s user base into two incompatible products makes it difficult for both projects to attract attention. In addition to these two big projects, there are still siled messaging services of Google Voice and apps like Google Photos and Google Pay. Once upon a time, Google tried to solve this problem. Messaging had to have a real home on Google, and that home had to be (a dramatic thunderbolt) Google+. In 2011, then Google CEO Larry Page decided that social was the future and launched a company-wide Google+ project. The head of G+ is one of eight people who have been given the title of “Senior Vice President” and reported directly to the Page, making Google+ one of Google’s key pillars. The department had to take full ownership of Messaging, and two years later it launched its messaging project, Google+ Hangouts. First day Android app. Blob emoticons and video calls in progress. Would you believe Android had a tablet app? Google Like Google Talk, Hangouts also worked with Gmail. Who can forget the wacky, ugly green version of Hangouts released in 2014? By the end of 2014, you can quickly switch between Hangouts, SMS and Google Voice by simply tapping the button to the left of the input field. This is the current (and final) design for Android. Google Hangouts, codenamed “Project Babel”, was responsible for unifying the Google Messaging portfolio. At the time, Google had four messaging apps: Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, Android SMS app and Google Voice. Hangouts was launched in 2013 and integrated SMS messages by the end of the year. In 2014, the app was fully functional and Hangouts Messages, SMS and Google Voice were all in one app, and you can use it on your phone or anywhere on the internet. With the release of Android 4.4 in 2013, there was no standalone Android SMS app. Hangouts was the only default SMS option. Google built an iMessage clone and it was an amazing service. All communications are available in a single messaging app in one easy-to-use interface. Google also had real advantages over iMessage, thanks to its broad cross-platform compatibility. Hangouts was inside Android, iOS, web, and Gmail. In other words, the service basically worked on phone, watch, car, tablet, web browser and even Google Glass at once. If Google continues to update and invest in Hangouts, it will have a significant foothold in messaging today. But Hangouts’ house was already collapsing in 2014. A blade for service has emerged amid complaints that Google + is a ‘ghost city’. Vic Gundotra, Google+ SVP and the driving force behind the project, left Google, and the same day reports emerged stating that Google+ resources would be slashed and Google-wide G+ integrations were forced to end. Hangouts is stuck in a dying department, and while some projects like Google+ Photos have developed into stable landing spots, Hangouts hasn’t, and we’ll see regular customer complaints through 2015 that the project is running out of funding. Another “problem” with Hangouts was strikes against carriers. Combining SMS and over-top (OTA) messaging services into one app was something carriers didn’t like. They wanted something focused only on SMS, so users wouldn’t be tempted to opt out of carrier products. Google introduced standalone Google Messages in the next Android release. Google’s lack of cohesiveness and tenacity meant Hangouts reigned supreme as Google’s best all-in-one messaging service for only about a year. Hangouts continued to haul trucks of abandoned zombie products that were still better than many of the new messaging services Google would launch later, and they finally stopped today.
#RIP #Google #Hangouts #Googles #Opportunity #Compete #iMessage

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