Let’s get this out of the way: Google didn’t invent instant messaging.
It hasn’t been out for 24 hours yet and I’m already sick to death of it – can we get out of the afterglow already?
What have they done right? They’re using Jabber for a backend, rather than making their own. They’re ad free. Um. Everything else is standard fare.
What have they done that’s special? Nothing, as near as I can tell. The fact that Jabber is an open backend should make people at least a little worried: it’s a breeding ground for bots. Don’t believe me? Ask any IRC sysop about bot issues… they are an open system, a la port 6667. Does that mean Jabber will be overrun? No – I’m just pointing out a possible issue with using an open system for a business system. The fact that they pick up the native OSX iChat is a boon. The fact that spammers could have an IM conduit to the desktop is not.
They get a 1/2 point for going ad free, too – it’s ad free, right now. It won’t last. I’m 99.44% certain of that. Look at the search engine results: ads on every click. Besides, I’m still annoyed that the Google Ads service have been successful – it’s enabled thousands of web sites post ads that they wouldn’t have taken the time to do on their own before.
What have they done that other people have done? Quite a lot, actually. There’s talk of them opening up support to get to other IM servers… that’s good, but hardly original. MSN-IM did it first (and pissed off AOL accordingly) and then added similar functionality to Office Communicator. Voice over IP? MSN-IM and Yahoo! IM have had that for a while now… MSN-IM 7.5 even includes Voice Clip forwarding. I loved the comment at Download Squad: “Another big feature they’re working on is “joint search,” which would allow two or more Google Talk buddies using Google and surfing the web together.” I dunno how big a feature that is – MSN-IM added it in 7.0 – and I think I’ve used it twice, part of which was during the beta…
My point isn’t that Google is playing catch up or copying other ideas – not at all. It’s the software industry: you have to provide a certain level of functionality to compete, especially in the already flooded field of IM. And with an application like an IM client, the feature list is pretty finite, so it should look similar between products. My point is that Google didn’t invent the concept of instant messaging this morning, so stop gushing like they’ve given you a free hand job or something.
They didn’t invent the wheel, folks – they just painted a blue G on it – so have some perspective… I’m beggin’ ya.