Get # Navigating Changes: The Sunset of GOOGLE Maps Messaging Service

The Evolution and Impending Shutdown of Google Business Messaging

In a move so quiet that you might have missed it, Google has killed off Google Business Messaging, the feature that let you talk to businesses right from the search results, or from their listings on the map itself. It might not have been the first instant messaging client you opened every day, but Google Business Messaging was one of the wildest feature experiments that Google ever, um, experimented with. What it amounted to was an instant messaging client that was embedded within Google Maps, giving you a direct channel to talk to a business right from search results or its listing on the map. Google dropped it on Friday afternoon, and its demise is an important illustration of Google’s ongoing struggle with its messaging strategy.

GOOGLE Maps Chat: A Brief Retrospective

Originally launched in 2017 as ‘Google My Business Chat’, the service tried to make it easier for customers to communicate with businesses using either SMS or Google Allo (a now-defunct messaging app that Google had developed). After Google Allo was shuttered in 2019, Google Maps Messaging became a standalone messaging app in its own right – with an instant messaging interface built right into the Google Maps app. The first overarching strategy led directly to the second: Google saw the opportunity to make the Google Maps app do more than just help users navigate.

The Transition Phase: What Lies Ahead

(By July 2024, Google Business Profile Chat and Google Business Messages will also be phased out. Businesses are encouraged to download past conversations with customers via Google Takeout.) It’s another reminder to any business that wants to use messaging to connect with people to find an alternative to Google. Even if they don’t have to leave Google entirely, they no longer have the prominent place on the company’s platforms they once did. That Google isn’t replacing Google Chat with any other business messaging service is one clue. Another clue is the broader shift away from enterprise services at Google, which might indicate a pivot away from competing in the business messaging space entirely.

Exploring AlternProcceed to checkoutesses and Consumers

In 2018, Google Maps Messaging ceased to exist. The continuing migration of businesses to newer communications options suggests that the apparently ‘frictionless’ journey through Google’s world isn’t as smooth as it once seemed. Instead of a single Google messaging platform, we may find ourselves in a Balkanised messaging landscape of several competing services, each for a different audience. For consumers, finding the right platform to connect to businesses might become more hassle than it was straight from Google Maps.

A Look at GOOGLE's Messaging Strategy: An Ongoing Odyssey

Google has forayed into messaging and back again, with Google Allo through Google’s now-sunken Google Maps Messaging. Across all these iterations, the experience of Google’s messaging journey has been one of jumps and leaps, ups and downs, constant pivots, reframes and renewed efforts. In the messaging space, Google has struggled to find a sustainable model to justify its resource and talent investment. When Google finds a winning formula in this space, we will all know. Until then, the tech giant’s game is on. Boris Kodjebachian is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Conversations and Language in the Networked Era (CLANE) project.

Understanding Google's Long-Term Vision

Through all this evolving flux, Google intends to remain committed to helping users get where they want to go and helping users and businesses find each other. Regardless of the new services it introduces, Google’s business is – and always will be – fundamentally about connecting users and businesses. As the internet continues to evolve, Google and its suite of consumer-facing services will adapt with it.

About Google

The name ‘Google’ has become a symbol itself – of innovation and change. Since then, Google has grown to offer not only a search-engine service, but an entire parallel world of products, such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Drive and others. Google’s overall mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful has stayed the same but always evolved with the technology and the users.

May 30, 2024
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