Just saw this bit from CNET on messaging apps on Android .
Quite obviously Facebook Inc is taking the centre stage with the two biggest players – WhatsApp and (Fb) Messenger. And it’s true, more than half of the people I message, are through WhatsApp, with a section on Google Hangouts, Slack and Skype. None of these are listed in the top, unless the report did not have access to these numbers. Slack is growing in the enterprise sector, Skype has it’s following for video calls or enterprise. Hangouts is limited. Apple is definitely holding it’s own inside iMessage, but WhatsApp is also used strongly on iOS.
So Google announced their Allo last week. Plenty of negative reactions on why did they release Yet Another Messaging App on top of all those that they have. I think it’s definitely a big departure from their failed Hangouts push. They threw alot of features into Hangouts – it didn’t catch on, sufficiently. It didn’t reach the billions-of-users scale, it was too difficult to get started on, it wasn’t a WhatsApp.
Allo is a good move, albeit marketed as a Google assistant chat interface. The phone number based registration is better than Google account in terms of attracting billions of users. It will be easier for new Android phones and users to get into Allo. It will spread via phone number and address book instead of G+ or Gmail. And it might be like imessage in terms of SMS and instant message integration. We don’t know any further detail other than that assistant is included. Assistant definitely would work inside Hangouts – there is no technical issue, but it will be a useful attraction to draw users into Allo.
I think theAllo-haters are wrong. Chat is just an interface now. Just like how we can have multiple camera apps, we can have multiple chat apps. It’s basically different communities, different core purposes, all via chat interfaces.
That said, would people try out Allo expecting assistant-magic? Would they be turned off if assistant is not helpful to them? To be frank, many people do not always order food from restaurants and online services, many people do not take taxis and hire cars, many people do not travel monthly, many people dont only go to eateries listed on Google Maps, many people do not have a smarthome. Would Allo be useful to these people? Is assistant only for the rich kids in the first world countries who travel by Uber and eat via food deliveries? Would it be relevant outside the USA where app and commercial integration might not be as pervasive, or where Google takes a super long time to roll out their shops and services?