I suppose that FCC blogging regulations require us to muse on Google Talk for a bit. For folks that have been using IM since ICQ was king (like me, and I’m betting most of you), the Google Talk client itself looks pretty poor. It’s missing features that AIM and ICQ have taken for granted since ‘99.
However, there are a couple of interesting points to take from this:
GTalk is based on Jabber, the little open-sourced IM protocol that could. Jabber is a fantastic and very hackable protocol (the good hacking, not the bad hacking), and you can find tons of libraries for it.
Look at the emails in your inbox, especially the automated ones. I’m guessing about half of them could have been better handled as IM messages. Developers don’t like to implement IM integration into software because all of the libraries are unofficial and the companies in charge of the proprietary protocols can decide to break the spec at any time just to get rid of you — except for Jabber. It’s open. If there’s a large Jabber-powered user base out there, my guess is that you’ll see a lot more software that can talk with IM.
Google is trying to take a very open approach to IM. They claim to be commited to integrating with other IM providers. Michael Robertson (the Linspire guy), who never misses a PR opportunity, posted today that his Gizmo Project will be one of the first outside networks to hook in. If the big boys decide to play ball too, then we’re really on to something.
In keeping with the whole ‘open’ theme, Google is also not trying to tie people to their client. Most IM networks “tolerate” third-party clients, but Google is the only one I’ve seen that’s telling you how to set them up.
Overall, I’m hoping that Google Talk survives the slim features available in the current client and takes off enough to get a huge user base and enough clout to unite the other IM networks. If that happens, email and even, for some folks, the telephone, could be seeing lighter duty.