The rumored Google Duo and Google Meet are merging. Google officially confirmed the move on June 1, explaining in a blog post that the goal is to create a “unique video communications service” and that the Duo brand will disappear in favor of Google Meet.
While the Google Duo brand is dying, it looks like the Duo base code will continue to be the basis of the new Google Meet. Google says “Duo’s existing video calling features are here to stay” for everyone, or continue to use video calling to instantly connect with an individual or group. At the end of the year, we’ll be renaming the Duo app to Google Meet, our communications service. unique video video on Google that is available to everyone at no cost “.
The move comes after Google unified its communications teams under Google Workspace Vice President and CEO Javier Soltero (author of the Google Blog post) in 2020. Google has not clarified what products are being unifying, but yes ought to means that Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Messages, Google Duo, and Google Voice will live under one roof.
Here’s a brief rundown of Google’s long history of communication apps: Google Duo was launched in 2016 as a standalone video chat app with a “companion” messaging app called “Google Allo”. Google had just failed in its attempt to buy WhatsApp two years earlier (Facebook made the $ 22 billion acquisition instead), so it fired its photocopiers for Google Allo, which was a direct WhatsApp clone. It used an SMS-based phone number ID instead of a Google Account, and was restricted to one device at a time, following the very different way Google works with WhatsApp.
Launching two communication apps at once seemed weird, but the idea was that Google could introduce Duo as a companion to WhatsApp and Allo. A business is typically expected to include video chat capabilities in their new messaging app, such as Hangouts or Facebook Messenger or (possibly) WhatsApp. Presumably, though, Google knew it couldn’t compete with the WhatsApp giant in chat, so a standalone video app was created, with a Whatsapp clone to accompany it. WhatsApp users can stay on WhatsApp to chat, but they can add this Duo app to their arsenal.
WhatsApp had no video chat features at the time, and Duo was launched (launched before Allo) to overcome WhatsApp’s impending video release. Both Allo and Duo were first launched in India, the strongest WhatsApp market, and Duo was created from the beginning to offer video chat over slower internet connections. The strategy worked, and although Allo died after two and a half years, Duo was able to survive. As far as I know, Google has never shared active user stats, but Duo became a default Android app in 2016, so it has over 5 billion Play Store downloads, just like any other Android app default.
While Duo spoke of Google’s WhatsApp envy, Google Meet is a manifestation of Google’s Zoom envy. Technically, Meet was launched in 2017 as a product for business meetings of the G Suite team, but for years it was launched. When the pandemic hit 2020 and the use of Zoom exploded, Google Meet was drafted in response to Google.