Distractions distractions distractions

Google messaging, youth soccer and focus

Last week, Google announced it was retiring Allo. Allo was one of their messaging apps. Google has more messaging solutions than anyone on the planet and they don’t seem to get it right which is interesting given the platform leverage they have with Android. How hard can it be to build something like iMessage? Especially since all Android users have a Google account anyway.

It reminded me of a story from a long time ago. I was around 10 or 11-years old. As a good Dutch boy, I was in a soccer team with the local club. One day I was bored waiting for my next game and looking at an under-6 game. They play 4 against 4 on a quarter field with mini goals. The person next to me looked at me, smiled and said: “Watch what happens next.”. The soccer field was next to a train track. A minute later a train passed. This attracted the attention of the under-6 players. They forgot about the game altogether to watch the high-speed train swoosh by. You’ve to understand that these train a bright yellow in The Netherlands and more interesting to these kids than the game they were playing. And yes they do keep score in The Netherlands but parents are asked to behave.

I think back of that moment often when I encounter situations where attention is diverted due to lack of focus or clear goals. You can’t fault the under-6s for losing attention, but for everyone else, it’s a good indicator that there’s a lack of focus and goals.

Nobody doubts that Google has the engineering and design talent to build a Slack, Whatsapp or iMessage competitor. With Android, Google has the perfect platform to become the defacto standard and certainly a major player. Now they’re pushing RCS which is a GSMA standard. In essence, it’s enhanced SMS texting. As with any GSMA standard, it gives full control to the carriers. This means you’ll have to wait a decade or more before it works reliably. Remember MMS? The first spec arrived in 2004. It’s still not 100% reliable across carriers. Did I mention RCS does not support end-to-end encryption?

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