Mobile Convergence

Monday, September 05, 2005

XMPP - From Jabber to Google Talk in 60 seconds

So, I had set up my subscription stack at to include XMPP. Prior to the release of Google Talk I would get a few PubSub results a day in my sidebar focused on Jabber development. Since the release of Google Talk, there is a steady stream of results about the use of XMPP as the GTalk protocol. Is this significant? Is it a phenomenon? Maybe, maybe not.

Brand loyalty and the verbizitation of products. Today, we Tivo our favorite TV shows, we Google for search results on the Web, we PubSub blogs for live feeds. We don't differentiate between the company Google and the search product called Google. This is nothing new. My Mom used to ask me to get something out of the Frigidaire, even though it was a Maytag refrigerator. In the UK, people Hoover their carpets. How long until you are Borked if you don't understand what "Gtalk me" means?

Is the acceptance of Google Talk as the XMPP IM protocol a phenomenon? From a marketing perspective it is. Usually, what happens if you are late to market, with a limited feature set that does not have parity with existing products? Disruptive pricing may get you a chance at "Crossing the chasm", but you can't maintain any significant market share for an extended period of time. When you are comparing free vs. free that negates the disruptive pricing issue. So, why is Google talk getting so much press? It is less than a me too product. It is late to market. It has a limited feature set. It doesn't support video chat, doesn't shake the screen or tap on the glass to get my attention. It doesn't even leverage the strongest feature of XMPP; the ability to connect to other Jabber servers using server to server (s2s) communications. JEP-0060, PubSub is missing. Google could have offered the ability to search live feeds and return the results in Google Talk as they came available. I am sure Bob Wyman must be wondering about that one.

Marketing. Google has successfully learned the marketing game. The king of marketing used to be Microsoft. MS has consistently created sub-standard products and has marketed them as the greatest thing since shaped skis, or sliced bread if you are not a gravity sports fanatic. MS releases Beta products and calls them Final Releases. Google releases fully functional products and calls them Beta Releases. Google allows us into their labs, we can experience the Google vision. They understand the Open Source philosophy of release often, release early. Microsoft has been perceived to be evil, Google instills in its employess "don't be evil" as its core value. If you disagree that Microsoft is perceived to be evil, then you don't get out much. Steve Balmer, Microsoft CEO, has this to say about his "don't be evil" rival: "I'm going to f---ing kill Google."
My advice to Mr. Balmer: Give people what they want, don't try to dictate what the market should use. Take this recent example. "The commonwealth of Massachusetts has proposed a plan to phase out office productivity applications from Microsoft and other providers in favor of those based on "open" standards, including the recently approved OpenDocument standard." Alan Yates, Microsoft's general manager of Information Worker business strategy, seems that think that closed, proprietary standards are better than open, well documented standards. You can read about Microsoft's lastest fiasco Here

Microsoft doesn't get the message. The message is "stick to creating a mainstream Operating System and leave innovation to those companies that understand how to implement it." Google gets it. They have been late to market with sometimes limited feature sets, and yet they have done it right in the eyes of the consumers. Orkut, "an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends" beat Microsoft's Friendster. Google maps minimized the usefullness of Microsoft's Terra Server. MSN search lays abandoned as most people have set Google Search as their home page. GMail over Hotmail. Now, Gtalk will eventually migrate users from MSN Chat. The one place in the world where MSN (MSN CHAT, "MSN me") is a verb, Brasil, is about to mass migrate to Google Talk. Why? Orkut. Brasil has the largest representation on Orkut. Place your bets... Google will integrate Google Talk into Orkut. An online community that interacts through a network of real-time communication makes too much sense. It is like AOL for grownups.

In a speech in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 7, 1966, Robert F. Kennedy said, "There is a Chinese curse which says, "May he live in interesting times." Like it or not, we live in interesting times..." Curse or omen? For Microsoft, this is a curse. For Google, an omen. We live in interesting times. We are seeing open standards defeat closed, proprietary "do it my way damnit" mentality.

Enough rambling for now. I need to go add some boolean logic to my PubSub subscription.


  • I don't understand what XMPP is but I found the PubSub site interesting. Your insight is very clever and forward thinking. I am glad I stumbled across your blog.

    By Anonymous Jenna, at 1:32 PM  

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