Google Talk and Brand Destruction

There was a time, not too distant in our memories, we had a medium, which was as ubiquitous as one could have possibly imagined. It was available everywhere one would want it – Inside Gmail, Outside Gmail on Desktop, Android Phone, Blackberry Phone and even on iPhone (through 3rd party apps), and well, the whole world was on it.

This was Google Talk.

Just like Gmail is the default email client of the world today, Google Talk was the default messenger. And then, almost 7 years ago, it had features which a lot of popular messengers have added only now; chatting aside, one could message offline as well as do audio and video calls. How long did we wait for these features to arrive on Whatsapp?

So then, what happened?

Google, the behemoth, in one of its brightest moments in history, decided to sideline Google Talk and replace it with ‘Hangout’ as a part of its Google+ push. They killed what was the most loved chat/messenger brand of its time and way ahead of competitors.

An opportunity was born which gave rise to WhatsApp, which got sold for USD 19 Billion to Facebook, and that was over 3 years ago. Cant even imagine its worth today with the number of users having grown almost 3 times.

And now, Google continues to ‘Allo… Allo…’ like a madman lost on a busy street in Hongkong (and no one is responding), while WhatsApp is the app almost 1.3 Billion people wake up to.

This is a rare gem of a business faux pas that doesn’t happen too often. There was no competition, usage was growing, it was World’s No.1 and yet Google managed to destroy it, all by themselves. Without any enemy intervention!

Can it be revived? I have been waiting that someday Google will do it; remove the multitude of messenger apps that have created and resurrect Talk. Will it become the leader again? I am pretty sure. Here’s how,

  • Relaunch Google Talk and move all the users from Duo, Allo and Hangouts to it automatically;
  • Allow users to import their chat history from popular messengers such as WhatsApp as well as add contacts to their contact books (in case they don’t already exist);
  • Introduce all the features that users are used to today (at launch) – Chat, Audio and Video aside, it should have Stories, P2P payments, Group chats, Group Audio and Video calls as well as ability to manage team and small projects (think Slack); allow users to turn on or off high level features during first install as well as later in settings. For example if someone does not want stickers, no one should be able to send it to them;
  • Build Google Assistant into it
  • Give it a major marketing push; who better to do this than Google!
  • And most important – make it available across every possible device type, including desktop (not like Whatsapp Web; true desktop like how Google Talk was);
  • And finally, maintain the same logo as before, maybe polish it a bit. People remember it.

Image Credit

1. Logo Database

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