MSN, AIM, Google Talk, oh my!
Sorry Yahoo, your name didn’t fit.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about Instant Messaging lately. I think Chris got it right in his post last week.
Since I just wrote a lengthy response over on Scoble‘s blog about this… I’m just going to cut and paste it here. Yeah, I’m lazy… but it’s 9pm and I haven’t left the office yet. So forgive me.
I think what the IM companies are trying to figure out is… if we don’t tie the client to the service, how does the service make money?
As wonderful as it would be for some graciuos company to “donate” instant messaging servers to the world… I don’t see it happening.
Right now AOL and MSN make money by showing ads in the IM client. If people use different clients, you don’t get paid for the ads. I think Google thought of a different way.
I don’t think Google would have used the Jabber protocol if they didn’t think they could use the Google Talk service (not just the client) as a way to drive revenue.
You see, Google may tout their new IM service as being “open” because they use an open source *protocol* – but it doesn’t address the most significant isssue with IM’ing today… It still has to go through a central server.
The moment you require me to connect to talk.google.com in order to communicate with my Google Talk buddies, that’s when you become a closed system.
I think the solution isn’t to let other clients connect to your server. Nor is it to make people use the same server (ie. the current arrangement) to talk to each other.
I think the solution is to get the servers talking to each other. If I sign in to MSN Messenger, and my buddy signs into Google Talk… we should be able to chat. The MSN server should talk to the Google server and say, “Hey Google, Brandon is online. Are any of his Google contacts online?” And Google should say, “Why yes, Chris and Jon are online”.
Then MSN could say, “Hey Google, tell Jon that Brandon says hello.”
I mean… why not? We do it with e-mail. Why can’t we append a domain to our “Screen Names” and agree on a standard with which to resolve and forward them?
I work for MSN. But I like Google. If I saw MSN and Google agree to work together to accomplish something like this (interoperability between our IM networks), I would be ecstatic. If AOL didn’t want to join, I think they’d suffer. At some point they’d have to. Then we could stop running 2, 3, or 4 IM clients (and by “we” – I mean those of you that haven’t discovered Trillian). Then we could connect to *one* server and be done with it. Then we could actually choose based on the *product* – and not based on what our friends use.