Google introduced a new messaging app today called Allo. The app is fine by itself. It even has some thoughtful features around privacy and AI that were neat to see, but the issue is that none of these features are compelling enough to make anybody (and their network) switch over from Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Kakao, or Telegram.
It’s really liberating to start from scratch sometimes -Erik Kay, director of engineering, communications products (source)
Apparently the focus inside Google, was to do a hard reset and try again with messaging. But in my mind Google went the wrong direction with their reset. They should have taken a page from Apple’s rollout strategy with iMessage.
Allo should have been a blazing fast, seamless, backend system built into the default SMS app of every Android phone, which handled messages between Allo capable devices. And just like with iMessage, Google should have colored the message bubbles differently. In fact, Google should have taken pride in their system and colored the Allo bubbles green and other systems blue. This would have been a perfect reappropriation of the much maligned green bubbles on iOS. Over time, Google would have slipped an ubiquitous messaging platform into a billion plus phones.
Kay says that the diversity of Android hardware precludes Google from creating an iMessage-like system that co-opts SMS — not to mention that Allo also needs to work on iOS (source)
Diversity of hardware also doesn’t seem to be a valid reason; it’s just software and network calls, but I’m not the expert. As for iOS, the whole point would be that this strategy focuses on Android first, and I don’t see why Google could not create an Allo app to service iOS users.