Google will attempt to leave behind its chequered past in the messaging space in a launch that will see it go head-to-head with iMessage, What’s App and Facebook Messenger.
The tech giant is on the verge of unveiling Google Allo, a smart messaging app that will incorporate artificial intelligence and provide marketers with another way – in an increasingly head-spinning number of ways – to reach consumers.
Allo will enable users to search and make reservations through Google Assistant while in the app, while text and image messages will be analysed and responses suggested based on conversation history.
It will launch in combination with a new Google phone, called Pixel which is almost certain to have Allo pre-loaded.
Allo will also be available on IOS and Android.
Douglas Nicol, founder of On Message, a start-up agency launched by The Works, said Google, despite its power and influence, had been left behind by competitors in the messaging space, describing the search behemoth as the “odd one out”.
“Google has had a sad history in trying to own social media. The graveyard is extensive,” Nicol said. “There was Google Buzz, Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, the list of failure goes on.
“Google Plus has appeared to a certain targeted group and is ok but you wouldn’t describe it as a scaled success by any means.
“The big question about Allo is does it have enough differentiation to earn a place in people’s messaging repertoire?”
While that remains to be seen, Nicol said consumers use two to three messaging apps,on average, which offers some hope that Allo could muscle in on more established rivals.
“The good thing for Allo is that consumers don’t get into bed with one messaging app. Australian men in particular have a wider repertoire so my prediction is that men are more likely to get involved. Google skews to males anyway so maybe they could get a foothold there.”
Key to its success – or otherwise – will be how Google differentiates Allo from rivals, which on the surface it appears to have done, Nicol added.
“Snapchat have done brilliantly because they came in with so many points of difference in the messaging world. They earned a place,” he said, “And from what I have seen Allo has got a few features that could succeed in earning Google a place.”
He said the “smart reply” function, which uses AI to study replies over time and then predicts how you want to answer certain messages, has potential, as does Google Assistant which acts as a virtual personal assistant.