As the /. crew has just discovered, Google’s new IM service Google Talk has gone live and reportedly will be announced tomorrow (er, today, now I guess). I’m not quite as excited as some of the commenters, simply because at the end of the day, it’s just another IM account – of which I have too many already.
The VOIP angle I suspect will get a lot of play, but a couple of the other services like Yahoo have had that for a while. There are, however, a couple of things worth nothing:
- Jabber: Google gets a big thumbs up from me for refusing the temptation to create its own IM protocol, adhering instead to the prexisting Jabber open XML specification. Let’s hear it for open standards.
- Cross-Platform: One of the biggest advantages to going with Jabber is that Google gets cross-platform support without lifting a finger. I’m currently running it on the GAIM client (which itself supports Linux, Windows and Mac), and Google’s got several other clients available – with configuration instructions. The VOIP feature is Windows only, and you don’t get the snazzy Gmail integration pictured on the Windows client, but at the very least I’ll be able to chat with my friends and coworkers that are on Gmail. Which brings me to…
- Market: I haven’t seen subscriber figures for the various IM clients & protocols in ages, nor do I have any idea how many Gmail users Google’s allowed through the gates, but I do know a bunch of people who are candidates for this. A large contingent of my friends (and from conversations I’ve had with service providers recently, a large contingent of other peoples’ friends) have departed the likes of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail for IM. Strange as this may seem to kids, teenagers and people in technical professions, many of them still don’t use IM. Whether or not their pretty much unanimously positive experiences with Gmail will get them over the adoption hurdle remains to be seen, but I can pretty much guarantee that at least a couple of my friends will become immediate users.
Apart from all that, though, this is just the launch of an IM service. Is it important when seen in conjunction with the recent iteration of the Google Desktop package as another decided step towards the desktop? Undoubtedly. But the fact is that it’s after midnight now, and I can deal with that later 😉 Meantime, let me know how the Windows client is – I’ll give it a whirl myself tomorrow. Oh yes, my Google Talk ID is sogrady if you’re looking for someone to test it with. And if you haven’t managed to snag a Gmail invite yet, email me at my redmonk address – sogrady at redmonk.com – and I’ll hook you up with one of those.