TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Plans Instant Message System

Google Plans Instant Message System

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 23 Aug 2005 12:36:04 -0500

Google Inc. is set to introduce its own instant messaging system, the
Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, marking the expansion by the
Web search leader into text and also voice communications.

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

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

Separately, independent journalist Om Malik on his blog at pointed to technical clues that suggest Google is
preparing to run an instant messaging service based on an open-source
system known as Jabber.

Jabber technology would allow Google instant message users to connect
with established IM systems that also work with Jabber, including
America Online's ICQ and Apple Computer Inc.'s iChat, Malik said.

"This is the worst possible news for someone like Skype, because now
they will be up against not two but three giants who want to offer a
pale-version of Skype," he wrote.

Earlier this week, Google said it was branching out beyond pure search
to help users manage e-mail, instant messages, news headlines and
music. It introduced a new service called the Google Sidebar, a
stand-alone software program that sits on a user's desktop and
provides "live" information updates.

Over the past year or so, the company has expanded into e-mail, online
maps, personalized news and more.

The product push comes as rivals Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news),
Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL are all pushing to upgrade
existing instant messaging systems and expand into new Internet
phone-calling services.

Google's moves take it beyond its roots in Web search and closer to
becoming a broad-based Internet media company.

With instant messaging, Google would be breaking into a market in
which its major competitors boast tens of millions of subscribers to
their established instant messaging services.

America Online, with its AIM and ICQ brands, counts more than 40
million IM users in the United States alone. Yahoo has around 20
million and Microsoft's MSN Messenger numbers some 14 million users,
according to recent comScore Media Metrix data.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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