The History of Google Messaging Apps

Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica:

Google’s 16 years of messenger wheel-spinning has allowed products from more focused companies to pass it by. Embarrassingly, nearly all of these products are much younger than Google’s messaging efforts. Consider competitors like WhatsApp (12 years old), Facebook Messenger (nine years old), iMessage (nine years old), and Slack (eight years old) — Google Talk even had video chat four years before Zoom was a thing.


Because no single company has ever failed at something this badly, for this long, with this many different products (and because it has barely been a month since the rollout of Google Chat), the time has come to outline the history of Google messaging. Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for a non-stop rollercoaster of new product launches, neglected established products, unexpected shut-downs, and legions of confused, frustrated, and exiled users.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this lengthy history lesson is that Google — despite being synonymous with web services for fifteen years — has never had a single clear messaging strategy. Around it, as Amadeo recalls, every other internet company seemed to be doing okay with its own version of instant messaging. Even Apple, a company that has a long and embarrassing history of failed online services, figured out a decent messaging product ten years ago.

Meanwhile, Google has launched three-and-a-half chat apps this year. What is going on in Mountain View?