The newest app released by Google. Day 1: lots of fuss by people who weren’t aware that Duo, at the current iteration is mobile-only, single device-only, mobile number-based, single person call-only.

Undoubtedly it is quite a bizarre app to be releasing in 2016, when most apps have loaded on tons of features, logins, web+mobile platforms, etc etc. It is really pared down to the simplest form possible on a mobile device. That must have been a really tough call to make, all the way to the top. When all the features and engineers and servers and resources are available to you, and you choose to take it out of the app, that’s quite a move.

I think Google is perhaps targeting a different audience – “the next billion users”. Duo isn’t just simple, it’s specific. It seems to fit really well into the developing countries market. These users have their main identity tied to their phone number. That’s their business line, that’s their contact point, that’s their identity. People remember other people’s phone number. They have poor 2G, 3G networks. They have a single weak mobile phone, not iphones and S7s. They don’t have main email or google addresses – that’s not how they share identity. They don’t have multiple phones, tablets. They don’t multitask in front of the laptop daily – they are laborers or farm workers or village folk. I am generalizing here, but it seems like Duo could really reach this audience instead of solving video problems for first world countries that already have Hangouts, Skype and Facetime. By having this new generation grow up (internet wise) on Duo, Google could have a potential move here. But of course this audience is also deeply into WhatsApp and other lightweight number-based IM platforms.

Who knows? Let’s see if it catches on.


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