Google Hangouts will be decommissioned today. The phone app has been kicking customers off the service one by one since July, but the last traces of Hangouts, the online version, will be decommissioned today.
Hangouts were Google’s finest, most ambitious, and most successful messaging attempt for a short time, but 5 billion installations later, Google is moving on.
Google Chat, Hangouts’ next of kin, should have all your conversations and contacts instantly imported now, but the new service is a pale shell of the original Hangouts idea.
The demise of Hangouts is the latest episode in Google’s saga of messaging. Google Talk debuted 17 years ago, yet the company still lacks a rival messaging tool.
We’re on Google’s umpteenth messaging app because there isn’t a good, permanent home for messaging within Google.
The issue is visible in the company’s messaging lineup for 2022. Google Workspace creates Google Chat—business Google’s team creating a Slack competitor—and Google Messages, a carrier-centric competitor to Apple’s iMessage that appears to have grown out of the Android team.
Is the team responsible for Android more or less significant than the team responsible for Gmail and the other Google apps?
Both have valid reasons for pursuing messaging, but dividing the Google user base between two dissimilar products makes it difficult for any effort to gain traction.
Google once attempted to rectify the condition. Google was meant to give messaging a genuine home, and that home was supposed to be (queue dramatic thunderclap) Google+.
Google’s then-CEO Larry Page thought social media was the future and launched the Google+ project across the corporation in 2011.
The leader of Google+ was promoted to “senior vice president,” giving him one of the eight employees who immediately reported to Page, cementing Google+ as one of the company’s primary pillars.
This division was expected to acquire complete ownership of communications, and two years later, it unveiled its messaging project, Google+ Hangouts.
Google built this destiny for itself via years of questionable product portfolio management.
Eight years later, the firm is slowly realising the importance of messaging and is currently starting the very hopeless “Get the Message” ad, which begs Apple to embrace the latest bright communication bauble that Google is momentarily interested in.
RCS is a modest improvement over carrier-based SMS texting. It’s unclear how tying the future messaging platform to a cellular number solves any of Google’s issues.
Apple has already declined Google’s offer. The corporation is not interested in supporting its primary competitor and giving up an enormous market advantage that it accumulated while Google appeared distracted.
Apple sees iMessage as an incentive to buy an iPhone and pressure your friends and family to buy an iPhone, and the plan is working quite well.
If Google wants to fix this problem, it must create a time machine. Then it can read a few Ars Technica stories from 2015, where we consistently warned the corporation that letting Hangouts perish would be a wrong choice.
Google Hangouts was Google’s sole chance to overcome iMessage, and as it retires Hangouts, Google should also abandon any prospect of winning the messaging war.
The corporation must now bear the repercussions of its conduct. Will that 87% of US teenagers become lifelong Apple users? Maybe! Google allowed this to happen.