Hangouts will live on, but perhaps not in the way you expect.
Alongside the announcement of video chat app Duo's imminent release, and the hint that companion messaging app Allo is just around the corner, Google has announced that its divisive multi-platform Hangouts service will shift its focus away from consumers.
In an interview with Engadget, Nick Fox, Google's VP of communication products, said that "because Hangouts is built on a Google account, [and] because it's deeply integrated with Google apps... it's seen much more success in the enterprise."
Earlier today, the company announced that Hangouts on Air, Google's live video conferencing and sometimes podcast solution, would be moving from Google+ to YouTube Live in an attempt to salvage one of Hangouts' most popular features.
The shift away from Hangouts and Google+ in the consumer space plays into Google's vision for mobile-first communications
The shift away from Hangouts and Google+ in the consumer space plays into Google's vision for mobile-first communications, which sees Android and iOS as the primary operating systems people will turn to for sharing their text- and video-based thoughts and feelings with the world. Hangouts, like Google+, will live on in reduced roles within the company, deemphasized within Google's core product lineup but imperative to a small group of niche, loyal users.
To many people, Hangouts tried to do too much, and failed to do anything best. Allo and Duo are Google's opportunity to reset the timer and meet the audience where they are: on phones. Unfortunately, they are well behind the competition, with giants like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, WeChat, Skype and others already amassing millions, and in some cases billions, of monthly users. It will be interesting to see whether Allo and Duo can have the impact Hangouts never did.