The big picture: Google transfers customers away from "classic" Hangouts to the Hangouts Chat & Meet applications. The company hopes to streamline its confusing mess in messaging applications while changing corporate customers from Slack and Microsoft.
Earlier this year, Google announced that it was spreading its Slack competitor, Hangouts Chat, to G-Suite customers. This was part of a bigger effort to hide Hangouts itself. The company has finally revealed that the switch will take place in October, when G-Suite customers are the first to launch. Google created a phase timeline where this will happen.
16th April 2019:
- Several administrators facing changes will be added, including the ability to disable the classic Hangout user interface.
- Google Vault customers must ensure that their existing mail retention rules and teams are correct and that the "indefinite retention" rule is removed, otherwise all chat messages will be kept forever.
- Customers will be able to switch to Hangouts Chat immediately while Google adds classic Hangouts features such as Gmail integration and Google Voice.
- Classic Hangouts are officially retired to G-Suite customers and transferred to Hangouts Chat. Once the G-Suite customers are over, Google slowly begins to target ordinary consumers when G-Suite customers are fully (and probably acclimated) to the updated application.
Google kills a feature is nothing new for the company. In fact, it has become somewhat predictable at this time. To compete with iMessage, Google released Allo, but kills it for Rich Communication Services (RCS). Fortunately, this has had a little delay in the end with the Verizon launch of RCS messages on Pixel 3 and 3 XL last year, where Google's own Fi network also entered the rollout.
However, this effort to transfer to Hangouts Chat could be barren, at least for people not paying for G-Suite. Google already has a lot of messaging apps that it has tried and none of them have really fixed, meanwhile Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger remain the dominant mobile messaging platforms worldwide. Even within G-Suite customers, Slack is still largely used with Microsoft, which is trying to lure its Windows business customers to Microsoft Teams.
Google's forces have largely been with machine learning and artificial intelligence. If Google can leverage these strengths with a solid enterprise messaging offer, it may disturb customers away from Slack and Microsoft. Until then, it is not known whether this shift to another Hangouts product will continue to confuse customers.