Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: there’s a report that Google is considering either launching or shutting down a messaging app. 9to5Google said that based on a “source familiar with the product’s internal roadmap,” Google Hangouts as a consumer product will come to an end in 2020. Whether or not that holds up remains to be seen, and Google isn’t officially saying anything about the app’s future, but the writing has been on the wall since… forever?
Did the countdown clock start when Google launched two other consumer-focused messaging apps with a mobile focus? Or was it the recently-announced demise of Google+, where Hangouts got its start in 2011 before relaunching as a solo act in 2013? Of course, Google Talk/Gchat hung around until 2016, so there’s some precedent for an ending that could come later than anyone expects.
Hangouts has appeared as an afterthought in Google’s plans for an Assistant AI-powered future — with RCS expanding on SMS, Android Messages is bringing texting back, it’s almost poetic — so it’s tough to see it going much further, rumor or not. Keeping it around for business cases is the only thing we’ve heard actual news about for the last couple of years, and the last person to tell us its consumer facing service “isn’t going anywhere” works for Facebook now.