Google Talk Just a "Me too" product - for now

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Tom Keating
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Google Talk Just a "Me too" product - for now

In yesterday's blog post, I wrote about Google Talk's impending launch today. I tried to test Google Talk as quickly as I could and blog my testing experiences here. Further, yesterday I pondered, "...the ability for Google Talk to do P2P calling competes directly with Skype - so how does this affect Skype's recent "shopping around" for buyers? I wonder if Skype approached Google with such a high pricetag that Google said 'screw it, we'll build it ourselves' ".

Well, after playing around with Google's home-grown VoIP application for awhile, I have to say I'm not that impressed and here's why.

While I theorized in my Google Test Drive that Google was trying to model Google Talk after their very simplistic, ad-free, virtually graphic-free home page, on further reflection, this doesn't make a lot of sense. Sure, users want their browsing experience to be uncluttered, ad-free, with fast load times, but when it comes to instant messaging clients users want a graphically-rich client. They want their emoticons, they want the ability to search for their friends, etc. Google Talk doesn't support any emoticons. That's unheard of for an serious IM client! Further, their search feature only searches your Gmail contacts and not Google's Gmail servers, so unlike Skype you can't search for long-lost friends or buddies. In Skype you can search the millions of Skype users by specific countries, full name, age, city, state, birthdate, and more. Not so in Google Talk. I've acquired more Skype buddies from them searching for me than any other method.

As of right now, I have to say the Google Talk software is a "me too" product. I would have never thought that I would say this about any Google product since they are usually FIRST and usually the best. Even a friend of mine who read my blog about Google Talk and who immediately installed it, called me up on Google Talk and said "Ok, well this was a cool test, but I'm going to uninstall it now. I don't need yet another IM or VoIP client running on my PC. It's not any better than Skype, so why should I switch?"

I agree, though I will keep my Google Talk installed for now, but probably keep it closed until the number of Google Talk users reaches a "mass" tipping point. Who knows how long that will take? Even if they add SIP support, which they have promised to do, they really need to add emoticons and other "bells and whistles" if they want to catch up with Skype, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, etc.

Getting back to my previous quote, "I wonder if Skype approached Google with such a high pricetag that Google said 'screw it, we'll build it ourselves' ", all I have to say is, maybe Google should have bought Skype?

Doctorveez has a blog entry titled "Google Why" with some some similar negative comments on Google Talk, that are definitely worth checking out.

Update (5 min from orig post)
I forgot to mention one other thing. Google Talk lets you record your chat history, so when the same person IMs you again, you'll see the entrie history of your IM interactions with them since the beginning of time. This too is a bit scary. You can turn this off, but I wonder if Google still keeps a history on their servers just in case Homeland Security or the FBI comes knocking. This blog points out that currently the instant messages are not encrypted - they're sent in clear text! YIKES!

Update 2 (10 min from orig post)

According to Google and contrary to Gmail's philosophy of storing all
emails, it looks like Google Talk doesn't log more than 20 lines of
text chat. I wonder if that's 20 lines of text chat per person in your Buddy list? No time to test that right now.

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