talk.google.com - where is the beef?

by Volker Weber

Google has started to offer IM services today, using the standard XMPP protocol, the artist formerly known as Jabber. Now we have five big IM networks: AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo and Google. AIM and ICQ interconnect, the others don't. Everyone of those players tries to own their user base. It's like every big company running their own email system, where you cannot send mails from one company to the other.

XMPP should be different. It uses an address scheme very similar to email. I am volker.weber@gmail.com. That is user@domain. If I wanted to connect to vowe@jabber.com (I own that as well), then the server for jabber.com talks to the server for gmail.com and relays the message. Much as we know it from email. You can also subscribe to presence information for people on different servers. A privacy feature requires you to authorize others before they can see you or send messages to you. You can revoke that authorization at any time. It's all built into the XMPP protocol.

It appears though that Google has chosen to not listen to requests from other XMPP servers. Nor does it talk to them. Thus Google shows the same defect like all the other IM providers: Own your user base.

And that definitely is evil.

Comments

Since AOL owns ICQ it would be exceptionally strange if not dumb if those two wouldn't interconnect. Besides that: I totally agree. Hmm. Maybe except the fact that most of the existing Jabber servers also don't talk to each other which is a strong point in favour of Jabber if being looked at from a company's point of view: You *can* build your private IM network, thus allowing your employees to communicate while prohibiting extensive chatter with the outside world. Still, an approach like that doesn't make much sense for a "service provider" like Google.

Stefan Rubner, 2005-08-24

Being a Google service, Google Talk is in beta. But in their FAQ they write: "[W]e are committed […] to enabling our users to talk with users from other service providers."

Thore Tams, 2005-08-24

You're right, there are numerous Jabber servers out there which are not public and therefore are not reachable from the "outside". They are not half as popular as the Google server, so noone seems to bother about it.
For me the point is, that I see no advantages in using Google Talk, as I'm using mostly the Linux OS. Without VoIP and video, it's nothing more than a Jabber server which does not interact with other servers and doesn't enable me to use the Jabber client of my choice - so IMHO any public Jabber server is better than that.
The only interesting thing for me is: Will they use XMMP to stream sound and video and if so, will they make it an open standard and document it as they "promised", so the whole Jabber community can profit by their add-on? AFAIK there are no applications using XMMP for this purpose, yet. Maybe Google did a great job, investing in XMMP and adding a cool feature.
And maybe - after all - the Jabber community and the XMMP protocol will attract the attention and get the appreciation they deserve. Maybe it takes a big company like Google to get heard. And maybe even Computer BILD will write about it soon :)

Thorsten Mann, 2005-08-24

Ok, run that by me again. What's the motivation for Google to open their XMMP server to anyone? They're providing a free service, they somehow need to profit from that, don't they?
They provide GMail (or GoogleMail as it is called in Germany) for free and they have forced other freemail providers to increase the free storage as well. Nice, thank you, Google. And I guess they profit from the GMail traffic and users, even though the benefits are probably hard to quantify.
But how would Goolge profit from offering an open XMMP relay server?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-08-25

Why is this so hard to understand? Just answer this question:

What benefit does it have for Google to open their email servers so you can send and receive messages from other domains than gmail.com?

Volker Weber, 2005-08-25

I would love to be able to IM with people in other XMPP domains, but hey, what about spam from other XMPP servers ?

Are there any effective measures designed into it so you can blacklist servers/users/domains or is this still in need of development ? Maybe Google is looking into that also...

I can't have been the first to think of the spam issue, right ?

Alex Boschmans, 2005-08-25

Of course you can blacklist servers.

A user also has to authorize any contact. You can make the client authorize automatically, and Google obviously has created their own client with this feature turned on. In iChat I get asked for everyone who wants to see my presence. Take a look at other Jabber clients and see how they have implemented this protocol feature.

Volker Weber, 2005-08-25

I didn't realise that Google Talk wasn't interoperating with other Jabber/XMPP servers (I've been on holiday for a week, catching up on all the tech news). The IM space has become very fragmented, it seems that if you're an "average user" that doesn't run / know about integrated clients (like Miranda, Trillian or Adium) then you potentially end up with multiple IM clients running at the same time, depending on what the people you want to talk to are using. You end up with no integration of chat history or contact lists, it's just a huge mess. Especially given that Talk doesn't currently give you any functionality that the other IM clients do. Compared to iChat or MSN Messenger with video too, it gives you LESS functionality.

Marcin Szczepanski, 2005-08-28

They say they're "working closely with Earthlink and Sipphone to federate EarthLink's Vling service and Sipphone's Gizmo Project with the Google Talk service as quickly as possible". This sounds quite good, Gizmo is a pretty piece of software.BUT, unless they open services for msn, yahoo and other protocols (like most other Jabber servers do), I don't think i'll use it. People simply don't like loosing all their old IM contacts.

Steve Mezzadri, 2005-08-29

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