There are plenty of businesses that rely on Google’s range of apps and tools to stay productive. Yet, more often than not, these end up alongside another communications product, like Slack, Workplace from Facebook or Microsoft Teams.
It seems like Google is planning on offering its own alternative, using the bits and pieces it’s created over the past decades. A new report in The Information claims that the communications app will be sold to business, built on Hangouts but with bits of G Suite like Drive and Gmail built in.
Google’s messaging apps have been many things, but ‘unified’ historically isn’t one of them. Even now there are three versions of Hangouts – Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat for businesses, and the regular consumer version of Hangouts – and there’s plenty more in Google’s graveyard, including Buzz, Wave, Allo and Inbox. They are survived by the RCS-based Android app called Chat, and Google Duo.
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Google hasn’t commented on the report, but it’s not hard to see why this makes sense for the company. Tools like Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Drive are key parts of many businesses big and small, and if the company can offer everything in one tidy package, then the benefits are theoretically pretty clear.
Of course, it might not work that well in practice. If there’s one thing humans hate, it’s having to change familiar routines, even if the ultimate destination might make more sense. That’s probably the reason why Slack was so bullish back in 2016 when Microsoft launched its Teams rival. The company took out a full-page ad in The New York Times with a long letter nominally welcoming Microsoft, but really explaining how hard it is to be as good as Slack.
“We’re glad you’re going to be helping us define this new product category,” the letter ended. “We admire many of your achievements and know you’ll be a worthy competitor. We’re sure you’re going to come up with a couple of new ideas on your own too. And we’ll be right there, ready.”
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Still, three years later and Microsoft is still going strong in the space. Last summer it was claiming to have overtaken Slack in terms of daily active users, which certainly shows the appeal of all-in-one solutions if they encompass a full ecosystem – in Microsoft’s case Word, Excel, Outlook and so on.
That may or may not be a good omen for Google. We’ll just have to wait and see.