Oh, Google. When will you learn…

The company defined by many as ‘all-things-search-and-internet-related’ is officially shutting down its short-lived chat service, Allo, This shutdown marks another failed foray into social media and messaging experimentation for the company. Once again, another social app will disappear from the Google suite. The difference this time? There is no sense of shock or surprise at this move. It seemed inevitable, considering Google had already announced it would stop investing in Allo back in April 2018. It was an undeniable sign that the service was failing to hit the mark.

Google said just that. Anil Sabharwal, the current Vice President at Google, said: “Allo has not achieved the level of traction we’d hoped for.” It should be noted that I don’t know a single person who uses Allo, no disrespect intended. But for those who do utilize Allo, the app will continue to work until 2019. Users have until then to export their conversation history if they wish to do so.

This is not the first time Google has had to pull the plug on a lackluster attempt to enter to social media messaging/chatting world. Many may remember their experimentation with social when they introduced Google Plus into the social platform market. Back in October, Google finally announced they were pulling the plug on Google+ after years of trying to make it a relevant platform. It was a feeble attempt to, in the eyes of many, make it something it could never be. It’s all but impossible to ignore the difficulties Google has had launching consumer messaging apps throughout their history. The shutdown of Allo sees the defunct app joining Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Gchat – technically called Google Talk – in the graveyard of failed social and chat apps from the internet giant.

Allo is a smart messaging app that was the first experience of sorts with the Google Assistant for many users. It allowed users to ask questions textually in a semi-conversational manner, while it could be usefully engaged within a conversation to provide answers to a group chat. Another feature that debuted with Allo was Smart Reply. Google’s superior machine learning was leveraged to analyze previous messages and even scan images, in an effort to come up with quick, coherent auto-replies. The other strong area of focus was it’s expressive features, like stickers, emojis, and a whisper/shout feature that allowed users to adjust the size of the text. But like the others mentioned above, Allo was an app buried in a misguided direction that never really took off, and failed to generate any tangible momentum in social circles.

This go round, the timing of the move is much better for Google. According to The Verge, Verizon is set to officially launch RCS chat on the on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL on December 6th. What makes RCS chat intriguing is the fact that it will be carrier based. Google has high hopes that it might finally provide the iMessage competitor it has been looking to develop for years. Google has accomplishments that arguably precede those of any other company in the tech industry. However, they have continually struggled to gain a foothold in the chat and social space. Will the shut down of Allo and the focus on RCS be Google’s saving grace to salvage their investments? Or will they continue to fall short on their attempts to be a major player in the social space?

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