A decade and a half of instability: the history of Google’s messaging apps | GeekComparison

A decade and a half of instability: the history of Google's messaging apps

Google Talk, Google’s first-ever instant messaging platform, launched on August 24, 2005. This company has been in the messaging business for many years 16 years, meaning Google has been making messaging clients longer than some of its rivals have been around. But thanks to a decade and a half of near-constant strategy changes, competitive product launches, and internal sabotage, you can’t say that Google is a dominant or even stable instant messaging platform today.

Google’s 16 years of experience spinning messenger wheels has made it pass products from more focused companies. Embarrassingly, almost all of these products are much younger than Google’s messaging efforts. Think 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.

Right now, you’d probably put Google’s offerings behind any other major tech competitor. A lack of any sort of top-down messaging leadership at Google has led to a decade and a half of messaging purgatory, with Google both unable to leave the space entirely or commit to a single product. While companies like Facebook and Salesforce invest tens of billions of dollars in a lone messaging app, Google only seems to give substance to a countless number of underfunded, unstable side projects led by job-hopping project managers. There have been periods when Google briefly produced a good messaging solution, but the constant shutdowns, shifts in focus, and sabotage of established products have kept Google from bringing many of these user groups—or user benevolence—to the present.

Because no company has ever failed at something so bad, with so many different products (and it’s barely a month since the rollout of Google Chat), it’s time to paint the history of Google messaging. Prepare, dear readers, for a non-stop rollercoaster of new product launches, neglected established products, unexpected closures and legions of confused, frustrated and banned users.


  • Google Talk (2005) – Google’s first chat service built on open protocols

  • Google Talk managed Android’s entire push notification system

  • The slow death of GTalk

  • Google Voice (2009) – SMS and phone calls get a dose of internet

  • Google Wave (2009) – An Email Killer from the Future

  • No one knew what Wave was for or how to use it

  • Google Buzz (2010)—The Consensual Social Network

  • Slide’s Disco (2011) – An independent app escapes the Googleplex

  • The Google+ Era (2011) – Google’s Social Panic

  • Google+ Hangouts Video Chat: The First Hangouts

  • Google+ Huddle/Messenger – I think we should have some sort of DM feature

  • A Competitor Comes Up – iMessage has entered the chat

  • Another Competitor: WhatsApp Is Now Worth $22 Billion

  • Google Docs Editor Chat (2013) – Like Gmail chat, but not integrated with anything

  • Google Hangouts (2013)—Google’s best messaging service

  • The Death of Hangouts, Unified Google Posts, and Hope

  • Google Spaces (2016): A messaging app for visitors to Google I/O 2016

  • Google Allo (2016) – Google’s dead-on-arrival WhatsApp clone

  • Allo’s Legacy: The Google Assistant

  • Google Duo (2016)—A companion video app for… WhatsApp?

  • Google (Hangouts) Meet (2017)—Not Zoom

  • YouTube Posts (2017) – Yes, this was really something

  • Google (Hangouts) Chat (2018)—Part 1: Cloning Slack is actually a good idea

  • Google Maps Posts (2018) – Business Posts, now with Google’s instability

  • Google & RCS (2019)—So we found this dusty old messaging stand in a closet…

  • RCS is bad, and anyone who loves it should feel bad

  • Google Photos Messaging (2019) – You get a messaging feature! And you! And you!

  • Google Stadia Posts (2020) – Two great flavors that taste great together

  • Google Pay Messages (2021) – We actually learned nothing from Google Allo

  • Google Assistant Messages (2021) – Text and Voice Chat, for Families?

  • Google Phone Messaging (2021) – Isn’t this going a bit too far?

  • Google Chat, Part 2 (2021)—No wait, this is actually a consumer app now!

  • Is someone in charge at Google?

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