It isn't Innovation. Telegram is a messaging application which is available now and does everything that Allo claims to do, and more. Desperation? I seriously doubt it Google has so much money this is just a blip on their radar, if that. Emulation? Yup... they figure that messaging is so fundamental, they might as well have a messaging client. Based on the feature set, platforms and availability they clearly aren't that excited about it; almost seems like an afterthought.
I'm sure by now everyone is familiar with the Allo & Duo Product Announcement. This was one of their major announcements from the 2016 Google I/O... another messaging app. Huh? We were told that Hangouts (which was to replace SMS and GTalk) was going to the Google Messaging solution. Then, not too much later Google Messenger was introduced on Android to handle SMS. That should have been a red flag. The problem with Google is they can't make up their mind.
Instead of launching a product and improving it, they have gotten into the habit of letting the current product wither and just launching another replacement.
What they are forgetting about messaging is that it's not just the decision of one person which messaging app you use... what is also important is the application that your friends and colleagues choose to use.
Another factor is pervasiveness of the application. The more places it can run, the larger the potential customer base. They have decided that Allo is to run only on mobile. If you want to send messages from your Desktop, you can use Hangouts. Huh?
What we are also being told is that not all of the features of Hangouts are available in Allo - but don't worry; you can continue to use Hangouts for that.... and eventually, maybe, someday, could be, we will be updating Allo. Seriously? Didn't you say that about Hangouts? What is more likely to happen, based upon past experience, is that Google will simply discontinue Allo and come out with something else - and expect everyone to switch again to a new application.
This has become Google's modus operandi. Google thinks that their customers have not noticed, or that their customers do not care. They are mistaken. What Google doesn't seem to understand is that if you want people and their contacts to switch to your product there needs to be a compelling reason to do so. Allo just isn't compelling.
Of course this is assuming that Google cares. It could be simply that they don't care - and that this is just one big kabuki dance to make everyone believe they are trying to innovate and compete in the messaging space. Either way, it isn't working. They clearly aren't serious. One only need look to see what is available from the competition. This is too little, too late.
I currently use Telegram and it currently supports everything that Allo will do, is available now and runs on every imaginable platform (yes, including Linux Desktops which Google has been ignoring for years). Telegram supports phone number signup and allows to also create a nickname (if you don't want people to know your phone number). If you want an open source, full featured, secure, continually improving messaging client that runs on ALL platforms, and is available NOW - check out Telegram.