For years now, Google seems to have been struggling with its messaging strategy. Ever since it launched back in 2005, Google had done several experiments and false starts since Google Talk first came out. Add that to the list of two more of the newer initiatives, Hangouts and Allo, which are both being shuttered.
Hangouts will still be available as an enterprise tool, and Allo will be integrated into the Android messaging app Messages. Allo will be supported until March 2019 and users can export their messaging histories from the app.
In addition to Android Messages, Google is promoting its video calling app Duo. The company says that Duo is “seeing strong growth and engagement across both Android and iOS.”
When Allo was launched in 2016, Danny Sullivan (now at Google as Search Liaison) expressed skepticism about Allo’s chances because of some awkward functionality. The biggest reason the Allo closure big is that it was the first use case for the Google Assistant.
Allo’s goal was to be a standout from other messaging apps, as they included the Assistant and search capabilities. Users were could ask the Assistant to conduct local searches, get maps, news, scores, weather and travel information and make restaurant reservations among other things other things.
Although those features were nice, it was unfortunate that the functionality wasn’t able to capture user imagination or help drive adoption. Shortly thereafter, Google rolled out to smartphones and smart speakers.
Although Google is closing own the consumer version of Hangouts, as well as Allo, Google is not abandoning messaging all together. It is just shutting down functionality that struggled to gain consumer adoption. Google still sees messaging as a critical tool for marketers. One example of that is the integration last year of messaging into Google My Business and the more recent enhancements of click-to-message ads.