Scoop: ​​Google Duo development & planned consumer-focused merger with Meet fizzles out

We broke the news last year that Google was eventually going to replace Duo by making Meet its only video calling service. That remains the case, but the resulting product will be primarily focused on enterprise and is no longer internally pitched to be a merger of the two apps, as Google has no plans to create a dedicated consumer-oriented video offering.

Our August 2020 report revealed that Google wanted to have a single video calling service for both regular/personal and business users. This decision followed the creation of a “unified team” three months earlier to work on both consumer and enterprise communication apps.

Internally, it was originally billed as a merger, with the codename “Duet” — a portmanteau of Duo and Meet. That team operated for most of last year under the belief that Duo and Meet would merge, thus resulting in a product that had the best of both services. Even then, sources at the time said the new direction and reduced interest in building a dedicated consumer service came as a surprise to the Duo team.

That direction changed in late 2020 when Duo/Meet leadership communicated internally that the consolidated team was no longer focusing on consumer video calling, and that it was full steam ahead on Meet as primarily an enterprise product. Specifically, there was no longer a desire to build a video calling app that excels equally at both consumer and enterprise use cases, in a stark change from the best of/merger plan provided a few months earlier. In fact, the extent of making Google Meet more consumer friendly would primarily be adding Duo’s ability to call users via phone number, and not just by email or link. We previously reported that end-to-end encryption was also discussed as a Duo feature for Meet.

Of the combined Google video calling team, the overwhelming majority today work on Meet and enterprise features. Meanwhile, it comes as Duo has seen minimal development this past year, with a pace that pales in comparison to the early/middle years of the service, and the ongoing iteration on Meet.

When asked for comment, Google told us that there has been “no change in our plans to continue investing in our consumer users.” To rebut the state of Duo, it offered the following list of feature launches in 2021 [after the direction change]: 

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