Google Hangouts will officially retire in October

The panorama: Google is transitioning customers from clbadic Hangouts apps to Hangouts Chat & Meet. The company hopes to optimize its confusing mess of messaging applications, while keeping corporate customers away from Slack and Microsoft.

Earlier this year, Google announced that it was launching its competitor Slack, Hangouts Chat, to G-Suite customers. This was part of a larger ploy to get rid of Hangouts. The company finally revealed that the change will occur in October and that G-Suite customers will be the first to be launched. Google created a phased timeline where this will happen.

April 16, 2019:

  • Several changes will be added that administrators will face, including the ability to disable the clbadic Hangouts user interface.
  • Google Vault customers must ensure that their existing retention rules and retention for Mail are correct and that the "indefinite retention" rule is removed or, otherwise, all chat messages will be preserved forever.

April – September 2019:

  • Customers can switch to Hangouts chat immediately, while Google adds clbadic Hangouts features, such as Gmail and Google Voice integration.

October 2019:

  • Clbadic Hangouts will be officially removed for G Suite customers and they will switch to Hangouts chat. Once G-Suite customers are in transition, Google will slowly start targeting regular consumers once G-Suite customers are transitioning (and are probably acclimated) to the updated application.

Google deleting a feature is nothing new for the company. In fact, it has become somewhat predictable at this point. To compete with iMessage, Google launched Allo, but it is killing it in favor of Rich Communication Services (RCS). Fortunately, this has gained some traction lately with Verizon releasing RCS messages on Pixel 3 and 3 XL late last year, with Google's own Fi network also participating in the launch.

However, this effort to move to Hangouts Chat could be unsuccessful, at least for people who do not pay for G-Suite. Google already has a large number of messaging applications that it has tried and none of them has gotten stuck, while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are still the dominant mobile messaging platforms worldwide. Even within the G-Suite clients, Slack is still widely used when Microsoft tries to attract its Windows business customers to Microsoft computers.

Google's strengths have been largely with machine learning and artificial intelligence. If Google can take advantage of those strengths with a strong enterprise messaging offering, it may be able to push Slack and Microsoft customers away. Until then, it is unknown if this change to another Hangouts product will continue to confuse customers.

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