Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Why does Google Want to Talk?

The interesting thing about googletalk (their new IM & Skype-like client) is that it's a window on their strategy. Yahoo and MSN blindly mimicked gmail's big storage and free access just to compete, but it wasn't clear why google sought to be in that business. It's probably profitable - with ads next to every email you read that are relevant to your emails. But it looks like the real reason was to create a user base for other kinds of applications. There has been a lot of speculation about Google creating something like a platform independent (browser based mostly) OS using the AJAX extensions. Their two strengths are searching/data distribution and now a user base - which can be used for peer to peer (email and IM are the most basic forms of peer to peer). So talk.google.com seems to be the first non-email use of that user base. Remember I was saying AOL ought to be in the telephone/VoIP business because they already have the directory of users from their IM business? This would seem to be Google's attempt at that angle. Certainly from Google's first client (beta they say, but I think maps is still technically beta) is pretty weak. It's very simple though. They seem to have decided that they would rather have utter simplicity over features. It worked for them before, but existing IM users have higher expectations. Also, IM in businesses is partly popular because it mostly isn't tracked or archived, unlike email. Google probably is tracking and storing IM, if not voice.

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