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Google is using Gmail as a vehicle to its own services just because it can

Gmail app
Gmail app (Image credit: Android Central)

Google announced that it's bringing Google Meet calling to the Android and iOS Gmail apps in the near future. At first glance, this might seem like a good idea, but there are plenty of reasons why it's really not.

I like Google Meet as a service and use it regularly. I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to trash-talk it or anything. It's a reliable, encrypted video chatting platform that doesn't allow anonymous users and that's what I want from any sort of video conferencing software. It doesn't even need any sort of plugins to work as long as you're using a modern web browser.

But I don't want Google Meet in my Gmail, and I think Google shouldn't be pushing it this way.

There are two ways this bothers me. The first one I think we all can relate to is that it's not necessary and makes Gmail worse. Adding a tab that focuses on meeting simply complicates an app that is already a bit bloated. An email app should be simple; it should let you check your mail and let you send mail.

Gmail Meet

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

Also, the Google Meet app (opens in new tab) already exists for both Android and iOS, and it works. So does the Google Duo app (opens in new tab). So do a handful of other video calling or conferencing apps from other companies, which leads me to the next problem.

Google is clearly doing this to promote its own service. That's fine on its own and a company is welcome to tell us about anything it thinks we might want to use. But when you stitch that service to another that's a clear market leader, it reeks of potential abuse.

Promoting your service is great. Adding it into an app that everyone already uses might get you in hot water though.

Google knows that everyone with an Android phone has the Gmail app installed and has a Google account. In fact, over half of all users in the U.S. have a Gmail address and use it regularly. That means more people use Gmail that all other services combined.

Google would like every one of those users to also be Google Meet users. That's fine, but wouldn't a new tab for video conferencing that could let you open the app of your choosing be better? It certainly would be better for companies like Zoom that are in direct competition with Google Meet but don't have a way to get their app on almost every phone. To make things worse, the whole thing isn't even opt-in and you have to disable it in your app settings if you aren't a Google Meet user.

When you are the market-share leader, every step is rightfully scrutinized.

Google needs to be careful here because when any company has such a large portion of the market it's easy to abuse that position. While I think adding more complexity to an app almost everyone uses is a bad idea to begin with, regulators might see a more sinister motive.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

12 Comments
  • Just wish that Google would integrate contacts as a part of Gmail as Microsoft does with Outlook.com. Very frustrating to have a Gmail on Outlook client but you can't attach the Google contacts to it. If some knows how let me know.
  • What's even worse is the tab in Google Calendar. I've had several colleagues get confused when I use Zoom or other meeting tools and there's a HUGE Google Meet button on my invites. I had to do some creative work with an ad blocker to strip it out of my calendar invites. Truly a shame for GSuite and other Google users.
  • I don't use the GMail app so not every Android user has the GMail app installed. In order of preference I use Spark, Aquamail or Outlook.
  • While it's not impossible to remove the gmail app, the point is that every phone that has access to the google play store comes with gmail installed and it cannot be readily uninstalled. I can disable it, use ADB to rip it out, or if I don't have a locked bootloader use a custom rom. But, realistically, the number of people in that crowd are statistically insignificant.
  • Never used the gmail app on my computer or phone!
    I always found the app not very practical on business point.
  • I disagree, I love having it readily available. Why does every other company allowed to intergrate their services and are lauded to how seamless the experience is but when Google does it they are the devil. and then you guys complain their services aren't as seamless as other platforms. It's just beyond annoying the first world , hipster complaining.
  • I think you’d have a different opinion if you owned a video conferencing startup.
  • "Google needs to be careful here because when any company has such a large portion of the market ... Do we have any data on this ? Top 5 email service provider these days and where Google stands ? Remember not everyone who has a google account is not a gmail user and some user have more than 1 gmail account.
  • I'm not seeing the problem here, but ok. First, tech bloggers engaged in click-bait articles about how people shouldn't use Zoom because you all mischaracterized "zoom-bombing" as "getting hacked". Now you're criticizing Google because it makes another Google service (an alternative to the "bad" Zoom) available via one of their service apps. How is this any different than GMail including a link to Google Calendar? There are many people out there who have a Gmail account but don't use Google's GMail app. Those people aren't being forced to see a link to Google Meet. It's not unreasonable to assume that someone who is using the GMail app to access their GMail account would be interested in easy access to other Google services.
  • I laugh reading things like it is abuse to market your own services within your other services. If you eat a burger at my restaurant I want you to buy my fries and a shake too.
  • Sigh. Hildenbrand is one of the few remaining writers on this site who actually still likes Android and ChromeOS - the many of rest overpraise the Pixel, bash nearly every other Google platform product and promote Apple platform products every chance they get - so I won't be TOO HARD. But still ... Google integrated Gmail with their EXCELLENT instant messaging app back in the day - back when people still used such things - and how many people used it? If your response is "Google had a competitor to the Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, Skype etc. instant messaging client? When?" then you see my point. It even had a video feature! Long before Skype's rise (and decline)! Another thing that Google integrated Gmail with? Google Voice. You know, the thing that only actually gets used if you buy a Pixel and sign up for Google Fi? Still more. Blogspot. Blogs are dead now - more on that later - but when it was still a thing basically no one used it even though shifting from Gmail to Blogspot - even moving data and links from Gmail to Blogspot - were super easy. Google Drive. Connected directly to Gmail. You can save your attachments right to it as well as attach files to Gmail straight from it. Integrates directly with Google Docs too. Hasn't stopped any of them from getting hammered by Office 365 the past few years. Google Calendar? More of the same. Directly tied into Gmail. But the last time you got an invitation from Google Calendar was ... when? Everyone still uses Outlook - or the Calendar app on their iPhones - instead. And this brings us to ... the massive Google+ fiasco that cost Google countless billions of dollars, especially if you consider that it totally trashed WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN a coherent personal and enterprise messaging strategy centered around Gmail/Messenger/Voice/Talk and turned it into the fragmented mess that it is today, allowing Apple to have free reign as the non-social media mobile communications platform of choice. Everyone with a Gmail account automatically had a Google+ account. Google used Gmail to promote Google+ every way possible, even letting the people in your "circles" know when you were logged into Gmail to read/send emails and ping you EVEN WHEN YOU DIDN'T WANT THEM TO (there was a way to disable it but it was enabled by default) and it didn't work. No one used it. At all. So the idea that "Google using Gmail to promote its own services will lead to market dominance" ... whoo boy. Google would LOVE for that to be the case. Instead, what is more likely to happen is people sending each other Gmail messages to coordinate their Zoom or Teams meetings.
  • This sucks! What about people who don't have G Suite and just want to use the email app for oh, I don't know....checking email? Google is again, forcing junk down our throats we do not want! Keep it all separate and let the consumer choose what to install on their phones! I'm switching to iPhone as soon as my contract is up!!