I suppose it has simply been too long since Google made a new messenger, so its about time. Should we recount the ways Google has attempted messaging in the past? First we have Gmail, and it is great, stable, and embedded in our collective workflows. Gmail is going nowhere. We also have Duo for video chats and as far as we can tell, Duo is going to be here for the long haul as well. The problem really shows up when we start talking about instant messengers where Google has historically tried and failed to create something that sticks.
From Google Talk to Hangouts (which is also Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet in the enterprise arenas), Allo to Messages to Google Voice, Google has struggled mightily to develop a messaging platform that stands the test of time and is adopted as widely and universally as some of its other services have. There are a multitude of reasons for all the shifts and changes and attempts, but those are for another time. Today is about yet another attempt at a messaging platform for businesses.
The Information reports (via The Verge) that Google is internally testing yet another messaging platform aimed at business users. This new service looks to leverage Gmail, Drive, and Hangouts (Chat and Meet) into one singular service. Anyone remember Google Wave? From what we know of this new venture, Wave was a similar attempt that failed as well. It isn’t all doom and gloom, though, as the things Google learned from Wave carried through to other products and connected services in the aftermath of its demise. Many cloud-centric services we rely on every day exist because Google tried out Wave. Check out the video below to see how far ahead Google’s thinking was around all this back in 2010. Wave may have failed, but it clearly spawned all sorts of online, cloud-based productivity tools in its wake.
This new service from Google could help them fight back against services like Slack and Microsoft Teams where email, messaging, and shared cloud storage meld into a single, coheasive platform. I imagine there are some creative and unique things Google can do if they put all this together in the right way. Internal teams may be able to finally get away from the headache that is extended email threads. If you’ve ever worked in an environment where the primary communication tool is email, you know the pain I speak of.
For many communications internally, chats get the job done in a much more effective and consumable manner. Where they tend to fall down is in the management of documents and files and their re-integration back into email when outside communication becomes necessary. Slack and Teams do a good job with this once users are on board and leveraging the services, and it sounds like Google is ready to take a step in that direction.
I sincerely hope Google chooses to take what those services excel at and build upon them. Google is in a unique position with all of its assets to really create something special for the workforce, but they need to nail the basics, get everything that Slack or Teams users would expect, and then deliver a few new killer features on top of that. If they can do that successfully, maybe Google will finally launch a new messaging app that is necessary, makes sense, and actually sticks around for a while. Maybe, like Gmail or Google Calendar, this new service will turn into something that we will all wonder, years down the road, how it was we lived without it.