Google Desperately Needs a VP of Chat
Google, where one is never enough.
Google doesn’t just love to double-up on it’s products. It loves to triple and quadruple-up. This is a great strategy for some areas. It allows them to test the market, take chances, and provide consumers with options. These are all good things. What is not good is making consumers consult their friends to see what others are using, wait for mature products with the features they need and want, switch services ever year or two, and overall be the subject of those market tests by Google. Thanks for making your products free Google, but I’m really not interested in testing half-baked projects for you. I have my own half-baked products I need to be testing.
Let’s see who’s online.
Chat is as old as the internet. One could argue that it was the real, driving motivation behind the internet. Sure, a place to store and share all the worlds info is dandy, but really I just want to talk to my friends while I’m supposed to be working. Nobody sits around at a bar and talks about the high school papers they researched on Yahoo. They look back and laugh at their hilarious AOL chat names. CaptainMonkeyface, PrincessFartsALot, JackmeHoff. There were some classics. Taking into account SMS and even sometimes email, chat is arguably the most used feature of the internet. Communication. Being able to speak with the people without picking up your phone to make a call or having to go to where they are. Snapchat, WhatsApp, Telegram. These are the most popular apps on the market for a reason. Chat is a vital part of the internet. And Google always seems to be playing catch-up. And they always seem to be years behind. They are playing a game they can never win. They will never catch the leaders, and their quadruple-up approach isn’t doing them any favors. It is downright guaranteeing that they will fail. Google Talk, GChat, Hangouts, Hangouts for Business, Google Voice, Allo, Duo, and many other chat clients have come out of Google in the last several years. And no one really knows what to make of it. And they also don’t know how long any of them will actually be around. Google is almost as famous for their spring cleaning shutdowns of products as they are for search. This time next year, will Allo even still be around? Will there be a new toy to come out of Mountain View that I’ll have to switch to again? Ugh. No. I’m not doing that. And apparently by the usage numbers from Allo and Duo’s first year, neither is anyone else. With chat, the quadruple-up approach has failed miserably. Now Google just needs to acknowledge that fact and do something about it.
So what should Google do?
Now I realize that a V.P. of Chat isn’t a ‘thing’. But Google is large enough of a company that it should be. And chat is too important to have such a half-baked approach. If they want to screw around with Google Reader and your news products, fine. No one really cares. But chat is the cornerstone of the internet. And Google isn’t just dropping the ball, they have hired Superman to punt it as far as possible. A V.P. of Chat can consolidate not just products, but the teams of the incredibly intelligent people that work at Google. Having your best people working all over the board, splitting their ideas and their talents is a surefire way to have multiple inferior products instead of one great product.with a lot of great features, the features people want in a chat client: email client integration, web integration, two-way encryption, voice, video, SMS integration, incognito mode, multiple accounts, and (can’t even believe I have to say this) the ability to use from as many clients as you want at the same time. Google Hangouts had most of these things at one point. And it has slowly been gutted as Google tries to force consumers to migrate to their other inferior products that don’t have nearly the same features. Google Allo is only just now, a year later, getting web integration, and the implementation of it is a steaming pile of manure at best. I keep Google Inbox open all day. And I’m willing to bet most other people do to (or Gmail or Google Apps (GSuite, ugh, what a terrible name). I use Google Hangouts extensively. With all the recent changes coming out of Google, it looks like Google Hangouts is on the chopping block. And if that happens, it may be time to start looking elsewhere. It probably already is. And I don’t even just mean for chat. I mean for email, storage, and every other Google product I use. Just give me a damn email client with a great chat built in, and I’d be off Google faster than an offended Twitter response.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!
If Google has a good reason for gutting their best products and forcing utter crap onto us, it certainly isn’t saying. The excuses they’ve offered so far have been just that: excuses. It really makes no sense. And it doesn’t really seem like there is a plan. It seems like a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen and making the waiter make up reasons for why the meal sucks on the fly. It doesn’t seem like anyone can make a decision and stick with it.
Ugh, pick something and stick with it already.
Google needs one person in charge of all chat products. They need someone in charge and responsible for delivering a great experience and the features people want, while preventing Yet Another Chat App from even being considered. If I had my preference, it would be to add SMS integration back into Google Hangout, add two-way encryption, and merge Google Voice into it, shut down everything else, and boom, they’re done. Everything else works great. They should really be asking themselves the one question no one over there seems to be asking: “Why?”
And until this happens, I have a sneaking suspicion that we have a lot of great new emoji releases to look forward to. Yay.