Google Slide Unit Creates Disco Group Messaging App

Google's Slide social application unit has launched Disco, a group messaging app for Apple's iPhone. No version is yet available for Google's Android platform.

Google's Slide unit, which is allowed like YouTube to run autonomously within the company, has created a group messaging app for Apple's iPhone.

Called Disco, the minimalistic app offers group text messaging like Facebook's Beluga, GroupMe and several others, as discovered by TechCrunch. Users create a single number that everyone in their group can message to reach all other members of that group.

TechCrunch said the app uses the domain Google bought at Domainfest last year for $255,000.

Google declined to even acknowledge the existence of the app, telling eWEEK it would not comment on rumor or speculation. However, the app, available free in the iTunes App Store, is clearly labeled as published by Slide. TechCrunch offers a screen grab walk-through of the app here.

Google acquired Slide for $182 million, plus $46 million in employee retention bonuses, last summer. The talk was that Slide CEO Max Levchin was being allowed to run the group separately from Google influence after some disagreements about how to do things broke out.

If Slide really has license to publish apps under its own name, it's really operating similarly to the way it did pre-acquisition. That means Slide is likely not officially working on Google + 1, the search engine's purported social layer cake.

This, and the $46 million in retention bonuses, would seem to indicate Google acquired Slide for protection from Facebook and others trying to poach social networking talent.

Perhaps Slide is Google's incubator for new social apps that will work with Google + 1, Google Circles or whatever it's called of late.

In any case, the Disco app entry in iTunes store also lists SuperPoke Pets and Top Friends as additional apps Slide has made for the iPhone. Curiously, Disco does not appear to be available for Google Android handsets at this time.

Since Google isn't admitting the app exists, it's hard to understand why.