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Let no-one say that Javier Soltero does not like a challenge. Previously Co-founder and CEO of Accompli before Microsoft purchased it and turned it into Outlook for Android and iOS, he then rose to the top of the Office team as Corporate VP of the Office Group, as corporate VP overseeing Cortana with a plan to turn things around.
We, of course, all know who that turned out, and Soltero left Microsoft at the end of 2018.
Google soon snapped him up, and in October last year, he started work as head of Google’s G Suite.
Now reportedly Soltero has expanded his empire, and will also be overseeing Google Messages, Duo and the phone app on Android. G Suite already managed Google Meet and Google Chat, meaning Soltero now overseas the majority of Google’s messaging services.
Despite this apparent unification, there are no plans as yet to merge or integrate the products, with Soltero telling the Verge: “We believe people make choices around the products that they use for specific purposes.”
So far Soltero has mainly added a new lick of paint, by rebranding Google Hangouts to Google Meet and Hangouts Chat to Google Chat for enterprise users.
For consumers, Soltero says, “The plan continues to be to modernize [Hangouts] towards Google Meet and Google Chat.”
He notes “these products are playing an important role in people’s lives” and “it would be irresponsible” to make too-rapid changes to these products as people depend on them.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior VP for Android, noted that “It’s not necessarily a bad thing that there are multiple communications applications if they’re for a different purpose. Part of what might be confusing, what we’ve done to confuse everyone, is our history around some of our communications products that have gone from one place or another place. But we’re looking forward now, in a way that has a much more coherent vision.”
While Lockheimer denied plans to integrate the messaging platforms, Soltero notes that the fragmentation is a real issue for users.
“The issue that people tend to have is their ability to see across [these apps] and see themselves as a Duo user and a Meet user and a Gmail user and so forth,” Soltero said. “[Users are telling me] ‘I’m everywhere, I fit into all of those buckets, can you just kind of make my life easier and better?’ And the answer is yes, that is the purpose of bringing these things together.”
It remains to be seen if Soltero can do better with this Sisyphean task than he did with Cortana.