Google Sunsets Allo, Struggles to Find Its Niche in Chat


Another messaging solution has bitten the dust.

Last week, Google announced via its company blog that its long under-utilized app, Allo, will be sunsetting operations in March 2019. “We've decided to stop supporting Allo to focus on Messages,” VP for Consumer Communications Products Matt Kleiner wrote.

Allo originally garnered interest for its use of AI-assisted messaging; this farewell announcement acknowledged, “we've learned a lot from Allo, particularly what's possible when you incorporate machine learning features, like the Google Assistant, into messaging.” Kleiner's message was reflective in its nature, noting how Allo's brief time in operation had improved the Messaging product by providing insight into needed and popular features. SmartReply, GIFs, and desktop support all now exist as features of Messaging because of their initial success in Allo. But the product has otherwise struggled to gain a following since its launch in 2016. Google has struggled mightily in the messaging market; the discontinuation of its latest and flashiest effort signals that they've not yet solved this challenge.

Elsewhere in the Google messaging space, the video product Duo—originally launched in tandem with Allo—will live on, bolstered most recently with the ability to leave video messages. The Hangouts product will live on as well, but will evolve into a business-focused platform with its Chat and Meet functionalities. And yet, even with these apps, the question remains: given several unsuccessful attempts, where does messaging fit in Google's goals now?

The shuttering of Allo leaves Google with a larger challenge: finding a messaging platform and protocol that can compete alongside messaging powerhouses like WhatsApp and iMessage. Prosyscom Tech News reports that its latest big bet is on RCS, or Rich Communication Services, but this bet will be challenged by carriers who will need to develop messaging services around the tech (thus far, only Verizon has agreed). Further, RCS is an unencrypted protocol, a feature that runs directly counter to market trends. With such major obstacles, it's clear there is still more work to be done before Google establishes a clear foothold in the messaging space.

In the meantime, those using Allo will have access to the platform through March of 2019, and will have the option to download their message archive before it's shuttered for good.

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