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Google Hangouts, The Last Of Its And Best Shot To Compete With IMessage, Rest In Peace

Cam Speck



Google Hangouts, The Last Of Its And Best Shot To Compete With IMessage, Rest In Peace

It’s eight years too late for Google to recognize that it needs to combat iMessage.

Today is the announced last day for Google Hangouts. Since July, the mobile phone has been pushing users off the service, but today will mark the end of Hangouts, its web app.

For a short while, Hangouts was Google’s most effective, ambitious, and popular messaging project. However, after 5 billion downloads, Google has decided to move on. Google Chat, Hangouts’ next-of-kin, should have all of your chats and contacts seamlessly migrated by now, but the new feature is merely a fraction of what Hangouts was intended to be.

The latest episode in the chaos that is Google’s messaging legacy is the shutdown of Hangouts. Google still lacks a competitive messaging platform 17 years after the debut of Google Talk. The fact that there isn’t a reliable, solid home for messaging within Google is one of the reasons we’re using its umpteenth messaging app.

The issue is quite clear from the company’s 2022 messaging lineup. Google’s business team creates Google Chat, a Slack competitor. At the same time, the Google Workspace team also produces Google Messages, a carrier-focused alternative to Apple’s iMessage that appears to have emerged from the Android team. Is the team behind Android more or less significant than the team behind Gmail and the other Google applications? Although both projects have logical motivations for pursuing messaging, separating the Google user base between two disparate products makes it difficult for both projects to achieve traction. Along with these two major projects, Google Voice and a handful of other isolated messaging services are still available in apps like Google Photos and Google Pay.

Google did make an effort to address this problem in the past. Google+ was meant to be the real home for messaging there (cue dramatic thunderclap). In 2011, Google’s former CEO, Larry Page, felt that social media was the future and launched the Google+ project throughout the firm. The head of Google+ was given the title “senior vice president,” making him one of the eight employees who reported directly to Page and establishing Google+ as one of the company’s core pillars. The vertical was supposed to take full accountability for messaging project, which launched Google+ Hangouts after two years “Project Babel” was the codename for Hangouts which was assigned with the task of—get this—unifying Google’s messaging portfolio. At that time, Google provided four different messaging services: Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, Android’s SMS app, and Google Voice. Though Hangout was launched in 2013, it had integrated SMS messages by the end of the year. By 2014, the app was completely functional and offered Hangouts Messages, SMS, and Google Voice in a single app accessible from your phone or any location with the Internet. No single Android SMS app was available upon the introduction of Android 4.4 in 2013. The only default SMS option was Hangouts.

An iMessage clone that Google had created was a fantastic service. One messaging app with a simple user experience served as the core for all of your communication. With its cross-platform capability, Google also offered clear benefits over iMessage. There were versions of Hangouts for Android, iOS, the web, and Gmail. In other words, the service at one point supported native functionality on Google Glass, as well as on watches, vehicles, tablets, and other mobile devices. If Google kept enhancing and investing in Hangouts, it would probably be in a good position in the messaging space now.

But in 2014, Hangout’s position was already in shambles. Google+ came under fire after reports surfaced that it was a “ghost town.” Vic Gundotra, who served as Google’s SVP for Google+ and was the project’s main architect, left the company, and on the same day, the news broke that Google+’s staff would be significantly reduced and that the company would no longer force G+ integration across google. In contrast to other projects, like Google+ Photos, which were able to find a solid home, Hangouts was dying slowly, and by 2015, customers complaints were frequently pointing towards it as an underfunded project

A strike against cell carriers was another “issue” with Hangouts. The carriers didn’t appreciate how one app combined SMS and a third-party messaging service. So that users wouldn’t be persuaded to forgo using a carrier product, they sought something that was devoted solely to SMS. In the following Android update, Google gave in and released Google Messages as a standalone app. The dominance of Hangouts as Google’s premier all-in-one messaging service only lasted about a year due to Google’s messiness and lack of resolve. Despite being abandoned, Hangouts has continued to operate as a zombie product that was still superior to the various new messaging services Google would later launch. Today, Hangouts is finally being killed.

Google’s horrific realization that it has lost the messaging battle

Neither of the dozens of other messaging apps the firm released has even come close to achieving the superiority of Hangouts, which performed as the company’s greatest and most comprehensive messaging service. Indeed, it was a great replacement for iMessage. The most depressing aspect of Google’s decision to discontinue Hangouts is that only now, in 2022, is the company realizing that it will likely be a good idea to compete with iMessage 

The Youths have been taunting people over their phone choice in line with Apple, which demeans Android users by showing their texts in green rather than iMessage’s signature blue bubbles. Google must deal with this reality now, where The Wall Street Journal is publishing headlines on “Teens Dread the Green Text Bubble,” and pop singer Drake is penning songs for the Billboard Top 100 about the inner workings of iMessage. Because Google didn’t see messaging as valuable, the result is that an astounding 87 percent of US teenagers now own iPhones.

Following years of shaky product portfolio management, Google gave itself this future. Eight years too late, the firm is only now beginning to understand the value of messaging. To that end, it is starting the very meaningless “Get the Message” campaign, which urges Apple to support the latest bright messaging bauble that Google is interested in. The  RCS, a small improvement to carrier-based SMS communication, is the bauble in question. It’s unclear how secure the upcoming messenger app to a carrier number would resolve any of Google’s problems.

Apple has already rejected Google’s Google’s proposal; The firm has no interest in supporting its primary rival and giving up the enormous market advantage it has acquired, while Google seems to be ignorant of it. Apple uses iMessage as a marketing strategy to get people to buy iPhones and to persuade their friends to do the same. The approach is incredibly successful.

Google would now need a time machine if it wished to find a solution to this problem. Then it may need to go back to 2015 and read some of the Ars Technica stories when we frequently advised the company against letting the Hangouts die. Google had no other way of competing with iMessage, so as it buries Hangouts, it should also give up on any chance of achieving victory in the messaging battle. The company is currently forced to deal with the consequences of its choices.

Will the 87% of US teenagers who use Apple products do so forever? Maybe! Google enabled this.

Cam’s mission is to empower and allow people to perform better at everything they do while developing the confidence and mindset to become their best selves. Leading by example in every way, Cam shows us that nothing can stand in your way when you prioritize.