2018 has been arguably Google's worst year when it comes to wrong turns as many mistakes were made.
Google had made a lot of right choices over the years but 2018 failed to be a continuation of that trend. As this has been the year wherein Google made a number of announcements and changes that are rather baffling and will be impacting users and the industry as a whole for some time now. To the point where 2018 has in general felt like a flop year for the Alphabet-owned company. If you were just to look at one or two of these events in isolation, then you could probably just overlook them or put them down to the odd bad decision by some of those walking the halls of power at Google. However, when you take them all into account and look at the bigger picture, then it becomes clear that 2018 was a major misstep. Google missed the mark on a number of occasions this year and certainly had more gaffes than what's listed below. Although the ones here are the biggest and most high-profile issues stemming from Mountain View since the turn of the year. For all of our sakes, let's hope Google does much better in 2019.
Google's sexual harassment scandal is arguably the company's worst flop in 2018. This whole scandal started to unfold at the end of October when the New York Times released an expose on Andy Rubin's misconduct at Google years ago, and how the company protected him back then. Andy Rubin is basically the father of Android, and was one of the most important figures at Google, until he left the company in 2014 in order to pursue other ventures, though it seems like there was much more behind that story, and Andy Rubin probably did not leave willingly, which is one of the reasons this sexual scandal has been a huge shock for everyone in the industry. One of the company's employees accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct back in 2013, but everything has been kept under the radar, as at least two company executives were aware of it. Once Google realized that there's some credibility to the accusation, Larry Page asked Andy Rubin to resign. The whole issue did not surface until the end of October 2018, so it has been kept under wraps for over four years. Interestingly enough, Mr. Rubin was not the only Google executive who Google protected when it comes to sexual misconduct, he was only one of three, not only did Google kept it quiet, but it paid them millions of dollars when they departed. That being said, sexual misconduct should not be tolerated in any shape or form, and this should have been reported straight away, while Andy Rubin should have been exposed by the company, not protected. This reflects poorly on Google, which is something that doesn't even need to be said, Google paid Mr. Rubin and the other two executives millions in cash to leave the company, as compensation, instead of exposing them to the authorities and letting them deal with the situation. This was definitely an easier way for the company to go about it, swiping the issue under the table, but it was wrong in so many ways, as it turns out they rewarded people who should have been punished instead, presuming that the story is completely true, of course. We will be hearing about this issue in the future, as the whole thing made it to the surface now, and the authorities are looking into it, so this is one ghost in Google's closet that will be haunting the company for years to come, possibly. From "do no evil", to scandals like this, it definitely not reflect well on the company, at all.
Google had launched Hangouts back in 2013, during Google I/O, after Google Talk got rebranded, basically. Hangouts included elements from Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the Hangouts feature of Google+. At the time, it seemed like Google had the right idea, and the right formula to make a truly compelling chatting and video-calling app, but after over five years, it seems like the company is planning to call it quits, at least the Hangouts we know and love. The thing is, consumer Hangouts is going away, the app that we all know (and some of us love). Google will basically kill the app, and will then launch a consumer versions of its Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet apps, as enterprise versions are already available in the Play Store, and have been for a while now. Hangouts had its bugs and performance issues over the years, but the app has been extremely solid for a while now, and even though Google did announce that this will happen eventually quite some time ago, pretty much everyone hoped that it will change its mind when it sees that Allo and Duo are not the apps it hoped for. Hangouts should have been further improved, pushed to become the iMessage of Android, but instead, Google opted to launch a ton of other apps to try and replace it, and it let Hangouts die… pretty much. So, as things stand at the moment, Google will push its (Android) Messages service forward, while in addition to that, we'll also get a Hangouts Chat service. The Messages app is now an SMS app which supports RCS protocol, but RCS is not a standard, not even close to that, so it cannot exactly be a full-fledged messaging service and a replacement for Hangouts… which is probably why Google will launch a consumer version of Hangouts Chat. Oh yeah, by the way, those of you who haven't heard, Allo is also going away, another one of Google's failed messaging apps. All of this must sound really confusing, and that's because it is. Google's decision to get rid of Hangouts is mind-boggling, and not only to consumers but to industry experts as well. As far as we are concerned, editors and authors at Android Headlines, well… we've had a number of conversations regarding Hangouts, and pretty much everyone agrees on one thing – Hangouts should have been Google's iMessage counterpart. Google should have been investing in Hangouts, intensively, while (Android) Messages and Allo should not have been a thing at all, that was a pure waste of Google's capital. Hangouts once acted as both a messaging platform and an SMS app, from that point, Google should have pushed things further, and evolve the app, make things automatic, as they are on iMessage, instead of offering a switch within Hangouts. Hangouts is a hot topic these days, and we could talk about it for days, but the bottom line is… Google made a huge mistake here.
In October this year, Google announced that the Google+ is going away. The company said that it will slowly start shutting down the service, and it will be completely down for consumer use in August of 2019… but, in the meantime, another security breach occurred, and Google basically accelerated Google+'s demise, new "execution" date is set for April. The company said that Google+ is not worth maintaining, based on Project Strobe results, as apparently the social network did not manage to attract enough users, and those who use it, don't really spend a lot of time doing so. Now, shutting down Google+ is yet another misstep by Google this year, as the social media network might not be comparable to Facebook or Twitter as far as usage or revenue is concerned, but it surely cannot be costly for Google to keep afloat, especially considering how many users still use it, and how many users were outraged by this decision. Much like for Inbox, users started a petition to change Google's mind, a petition which attracted a lot of attention. This social media network was launched back in 2011, and despite the fact it has been around for almost eight years, Google decided to close its doors, and basically crush down a ton of Communities that were actually quite useful and active. That being said, Google said that the main reason for the social platform's demise is low user interest, but if you ask us, the main reason for this is the security breach that occurred before Google's original announcement, as details regarding that security breach surfaced right before Google's announcement. So, if you're keeping track, those are two major security breaches, that we know of, which only goes to show how little Google cared about Google+ for a while now. The company was utterly excited when Google+ first arrived, they pointed everything at the social network, integrated it into pretty much everything… and when it didn't become an instant competitor to Twitter and Facebook… the company basically stopped caring as much, which is the root / cause of the aforementioned security breaches. If Google gave Google+ the attention it needs, if it kept developing the network as it should have, those security breaches would have never occurred, most probably, not only that, but the social network would keep evolving. It's really difficult not to mention Google's addiction to killing of services instead of making them work. Truth be said, some services do deserve to go away, you can't win on every front, but it seems like Google is having a hard time differentiating between those that are worth keeping around, and those that deserve to go away.
Back in September, Google has announced that one of its e-mail services will be shut down in 2019, and considering Gmail is not going away anytime soon, Inbox is facing the ax. That decision did not sit well with Inbox users, not at all, quite a few people expressed their anger following the announcement, and even a petition to save the service surfaced online, and managed to acquire quite a few signatures. Now, Gmail did become better over the years, but Inbox is completely different than any other e-mail app in the market, and even though it's not for everyone, many people found much use in the service, as it basically acts as an assistant in addition to an e-mail app, as it does much more than a regular e-mail app. A number of Inbox features actually made it to Gmail over the years, but not all of them, not even close, because as already mentioned, Inbox is different, and considering that quite a few people are using it on a daily basis (though not as much as Google would have wanted, it seems) as a Gmail replacement, including half of our employees, this is one move that Google should not have made, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having both services up at the same time and giving people options, especially considering how different these two applications are, even though they're basically serving the same purpose. This is yet another app that Google decided, and in Inbox's case, it actually seems like Google is ditching it because not many people use it, even though you cannot expect Inbox to have nearly as many users as Gmail… why? well, because despite the fact it's really useful and incredibly functional, it's a bit too complicated for regular consumers. Speaking of which, that may be another reason why Inbox is going away, but as I said, many tech-savvy people are using it and this is definitely not one of Google's best decisions.
YouTube Gaming was not a good idea to begin with. In plain words, why would someone download a YouTube Gaming app to watch gaming videos, when people can do that via the YouTube app that is likely pre-installed on their phones and they use anyway? No reason, right? Well, the YouTube Gaming app was supposed to be a competitor to Twitch in YouTube's eyes, at least that's what it seems, but it was basically dead upon arrival, as it did not really offer anything that would make people use it separately from YouTube's main app. For those of you who didn't get the memo, the YouTube Gaming app is going away in March 2019, and that is yet another example on how easily Google launches and kills off services / applications, though in this case, the move is probably justified, but that doesn't change the fact that the app was not supposed to be launched to begin with. Some people are comparing this to Gmail and Inbox, but that's just plain wrong, Gmail and Inbox are both extremely functional application, each in its own way, and both have a place in the market, which cannot be said for YouTube and YouTube Gaming, the latter is simply not essential in any way or form.
Android Wear was launched back in 2014 as Google's very own OS for wearables, and Google opted to rebrand it in 2018, so it's not named Wear OS, formally known as Wear OS by Google. Wear OS actually brought some much-needed improvements to the OS, and many would say that it either isn't a flop, or is the least significant flop on this list. We'd actually agree with that, which is why it's the last on our list, but the fact is, Wear OS still did not blow up as Google expected it to. Smartwatches are still, arguably, too expensive, and regular people are hesitant to wear them, with an exception of the Apple Watch, which is more of a fashion statement rather than anything else. Fitness trackers are selling well, but smartwatches, not so much, at least on a smartwatch-to-smartwatch basis. Generally speaking, there are quite a few Wear OS-powered smartwatches on wrists of users at the moment, as there are a ton of different watches available, but it just seems like Google still hasn't found its way when it comes to wearables, and Wear OS still needs work. It is worth noting, though, that people tend to exaggerate when it comes to Android Wear, as sales of single Android Wear smartwatch are often being compared with sales of the Apple Watch, which is arguably not fair, as Android Wear is a platform used by many OEMs out there, as it is being pre-installed on a ton of smartwatches. It's actually much like comparing the iPhone to Android in general, and judging Android by sales of a single phone, while Android is a platform that is meant to be used by a ton of devices out there. The bottom line is, there are a ton of Android Wear-powered devices out there, and their sales number are formidable, when combined, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that Android Wear needs work.