Pour one out for Google Hangouts, another social internet mainstay that has been declared dead. Any attempt to sign in to Hangouts after November 1, 2022, will take you to Chat. Users can request a download of their Hangouts data up to January 1, 2023, after which the data will be deleted (via Google).
Google has been working on shuttering Hangouts and transferring users to Google Chat for a while. Google promised users of Chat a comparable set of features when it announced its plan to transition Hangouts to Chat in 2020, including voice, video, and Hangouts’ convenient interaction with Gmail.
Google has so far fulfilled all of these promises. One of the remaining vestiges of Google+, the company’s grandiose but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at a social media platform comparable to Facebook and Twitter, was Hangouts. The worldwide social media ecosystem experienced several fascinating changes as a result of Hangouts’ survival as a stand-alone service.
We learn two lessons from Google Hangouts’ accomplishments and eventual failure as we consign it to digital oblivion. The first is that Hangouts and Google+ as a whole simply never received the level of support required to be long-lasting. Since the advent of personal computing, tech businesses have had to learn this lesson the hard way. While dominating the PC hardware market in the 1980s, OS/2, IBM’s effort at a Windows-style operating system, failed miserably.
The Newton, which was essentially an iPhone if it were made of bricks and didn’t work, was a product that Apple tried to commercialise in the 1990s but failed to do so. Even the all-powerful Microsoft cannot convince users to love its browsers. The first lesson from Hangouts is that you cannot compel a client base to utilise a product they just do not want to.
The second lesson that businesses may learn from the demise of Hangouts is a little more upbeat: fail forward. IBM refocused on servers and services after using the lessons it gained from the failure of OS/2. Even though the Newton was a failure, Apple managed to create a high-quality handheld gadget. Even though Microsoft is still promoting its own browser, at least it has given up on wasting time and resources trying to crush all the competition. Hangouts, one of the final components of Google+, stood for a strategy for the digital environment that was utterly ineffective. Watching what Google can learn from its errors will be worthwhile.