It was just a few days ago that I said Google's messaging strategy was a mess. In a statement published by Google overnight, the company has put Allo, the messaging platform they launched just a couple of years ago, on the chopping block declaring it will stop working next March. It's yet another software thought balloon floated by Google and then pricked into oblivion.
Google launched Allo and pre-installed it on the 2016 Pixel phones and then followed with Duo - the company's video-calling solution. In a sense, they were mirroring the product play Apple went with in having Messages and FaceTime. But unlike Apple, Google cannot seem to make up its mind or stick to one thing. Although the folks at Cupertino are single-minded about what they think is best for us - they do tend to stick to a strategy most of the time.
Google's history with messaging services has been a mess. And just when it seemed it was kind of getting its act together, the search giant has once again invited Mr Cock-Up to visit and make life more confusing for users. Hangouts for consumers is disappearing and there doesn't seem to be a clear plan for what's next. It's like the company didn't learn anything from the time it killed Google Reader.
There's confirmation from Google that Hangouts will split into Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. The company says Hangouts Chat and Meet are primarily focused on team collaboration for G Suite customers but that they will make their way to the broader community of existing Hangouts users.
Or not - who can tell what's going on over there?
Matt Klainer, the Vice President for Consumer Communications Products at Google, says "We’re excited by the progress we’ve made with our communications experience over the past few years". I'm glad he's excited because I suspect the rest of us are perplexed. Google's history of creating products, trumpeting about how they will revolutionise this or that, and how they fit into some grand strategy is starting to wear a little thin.
Someone at Google needs to sit down with one black marker and a whiteboard and define a simple strategy. If a new product that duplicates an existing one is proposed, better to fix the product that's there and not make customers feel like they're being screwed.
Google has provided instructions on how to export your Allo conversation history.