Google’s next target? Instant messaging.

Google continues to branch out into new areas and word has it their next service will be called Google Talk and be a form of Instant Messaging client possibly based on the open source Jabber platform:

Citing unnamed sources “familiar with the service,” the Los Angeles Times said that Google’s Instant Messaging program would be called Google Talk and could be launched as early as Wednesday.

Google Talk goes beyond text-based instant messaging using a computer keyboard to let users hold voice conversations with other computer users, the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s product plans.

If confirmed, a combined computer text and voice-calling service would put Google Talk in competition with a similar service pioneered by Skype, which has attracted tens of millions of users, especially in Europe, to its own service.

I’m already a big fan of Google’s search engine and I make regular use of Froogle, Google Maps, and Gmail so I’m definitely intrigued by the possibility they’ll offer up a IM client of some form soon. So what else might Google get into? Well rumor has it they’re considering becoming an ISP and some folks are even speculating that we may someday see Google OS take on Microsoft Windows. Couldn’t happen too soon in my opinion.

Update: As mentioned in the comments, Google Talk has gone live already:

Google’s Web site late Tuesday provided a link to download Google Talk and stated that the software “enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free-–anytime, anywhere in the world.” Google’s messaging program is linked to Google’s Web-based email program, Gmail, both of which are in a beta, or test, phase.

I’ve downloaded and installed the client, it’s only about 900K or so, and it’s much like Google in terms of doing one thing very well. The interface is remarkably uncluttered compared to some other IM clients that seem to want to give you access to everything from stock tickers to news alerts in addition to just chatting with friends. So far I like it, though I don’t know anyone else using it at the moment to chat with. If you already have a Gmail account then you can use your username and password from that as your Google Talk login. Google Talk will even tell you when you have waiting email in your Gmail account. Being based on the Jabber platform you don’t even need to use the official client to login to the network. Any Jabber compatible client will work and Google provides instructions on how to set them up in their help file. I’ll write more after I’ve had a chance to actually chat with someone on it. I’m interested to hear how good the voice quality is.

7 thoughts on “Google’s next target? Instant messaging.

  1. Finally Google is doing something like this. The worl is in desperate need of a good chat protocol. AIM, YIM, and windows messenger are some of the absolute WORST peices of software out. As I here it there is a bug in AIM 5.5 that is a simple to exploit as a back door. That is pathetic.

    Cheers BunBun

  2. Cheer now, boo later?

    Here is the lead from an article on Google in today’s New York Times.

    For years, Silicon Valley hungered for a company mighty enough to best Microsoft. Now it has one such contender: the phenomenally successful Google.

    But instead of embracing Google as one of their own, many in Silicon Valley are skittish about its size and power. They fret that the very strengths that made Google a search-engine phenomenon are distancing it from the entrepreneurial culture that produced it – and even transforming it into a threat.

    The gist of the article is that, as they grow, Google is beginning to behave like an established company, say like (gasp) Microsoft. A couple of concerns expressed by other folks in Silicon Valley are that Google is grabbing up programming talent and that they may achieve a monopoly position in the access to information.

    Google has no doubt earned their success. I think the thing that makes them so attractive is that that we seem to pay very little for some nifty functionality. We just have to wait and see if we long for the good old days whe Microsoft was the villian.

  3. I can send you one to the email address you registered with here. I’ve only got around 50 of them or so…

  4. According to the Merc article on this, GMail’s being opened up so that trolling for invites won’t be necessary.  Haven’t gone and checked yet.

    I’ve played with Google Talk a little bit today. A scosh on the bare-bones side, but I prefer that to the alternative of things like MSN and Yahoo that insist on throwing up ads and tabs and spinning batons and everything but Clippy …

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