RealTime IT News

Google to Launch Jabber-Based IM?

The first whispers of a Google IM client emerged about a year ago.

According to a number of reports, Google is now set to actually release its IM client called Google Talk sometime this week, likely tomorrow.

Last year, the industry was jabbering about Google's potential IM client. The general theory was that the client would be based on the open source Jabber XMPP protocol (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol).

At the time Google officials were unavailable for comment to either confirm or deny the rumor and a year has since passed without such a Google IM product emerging. This week, The New York Times and LA Times ran stories that said Google's IM product was coming soon, likely this week.

The IM product is rumored to be called Google Talk. According to a number of sources (as well as being independently verified by internetnews.com), XMPP connection requests via both the popular open source Instant Messaging tool GAIM as well as the multi-IM network tool, Trillian to talk.google.com. This indicates that a service is currently actively listening to XMPP connection requests at that address.

This also would suggest that Google Talk service is indeed Jabber based and, at the very least, is already currently active for testing. Google had no comment for this story.

Google's suspected Jabber based IM tool will likely compete in the strongly loyal public IM market in which AOL, MSN and Yahoo! are the long established triumvirate of market leaders. Jabber has to date been on the periphery of the public IM market for the most part but is well entrenched in corporate circles. IBM, HP, SUN and Oracle are among those that have already adopted Jabber/XMPP technologies.

When asked about the potential impact of a Jabber based Google IM product when the buzz was raging last year, Peter Saint-Andre, executive director of the Jabber Software Foundation noted that IM services provided by AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo would not disappear simply because Google started its own IM service. He did admit that Google's adoption of Jabber would have an impact due to Google's immense brand recognition.

By using Jabber, Google also is not starting from a blank slate. Existing Jabber users would also likely be able to communicate with Google's Talk users and vice versa. Gaim lead developer Sean Egan last year noted that Google has enough pull to possibly convert people en masse to Jabber.

The IM space is hardly a small market either. According to a recent Radicati Group report there will be 867 million instant messaging accounts by the end of 2005 growing to 1.2 billion by 2009.