Once known strictly as a search engine company, Google Inc. has once again made waves by launching its own version of an instant messaging (IM) and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service called Google Talk (Gtalk).
Gtalk is a late entry into the field dominated by established IM programs from AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft, and VoIPs services such as Skype, Vonage, and Lingo. Nonetheless, the industry takes notice of even the slightest manoeuvre from Google. As such, Internet web logs and newspapers were filled with rumours, critiques, and praise for the initial beta version of Gtalk released by the Mountain View, CA company.
Critics’ comments ranged from questioning Google’s sanity to proclaiming Gtalk as the global “Skype-killer”. Criticism came mostly from Skype users, as this release by Google is a direct challenge to the Luxemburg-based company’s dominance of the free VoIP market.
Google is deft at employing the “law of scarcity” marketing principle. Its previously semi-exclusive Gmail free e-mail service will be available for all Gtalk users. With the acclaim that has followed Google’s simple yet elegant email solution, a rapid flow of early adopters for Gtalk is expected. With further marketing finesse, Google will allow each Gtalk user the ability to give away up to 50 Gmail/Gtalk accounts to family and friends.
In another crafty move, Google has nudged its way into the telecommunications world by requiring submission of users’ mobile phone number to register a Gmail account. A password is sent via text message to the user’s cellular phone to complete registration. For users who opt for bulletins and alerts to be sent to their cellular phone, Google’s marketing and advertising platform has fully crossed over to the telecommunications arena.
Google chose an open standard to give users a choice of communication platforms. This will allow Gtalk users to exchange messages with users of iChat, Apple’s IM client, and GAIM, a Linux-based instant messenger.
However, given the abundance of reports regarding Google’s kowtow to the Chinese Communist government on censorship demands, coupled with the high-profile opening of a Chinese R & D centre, all freedom-loving individuals should watch their words. With Google Talk running through proxy servers rather than following Skype’s peer-to-peer lead, prospects of censorship and remote monitoring run high.
We are just beginning to see Google’s plans unveil as it expands its business activities across multiple industry segments. Google recently launched its Desktop 2 software, an intelligent Windows “sidebar” application with a desktop search function. Rumours abound that Google is busy working on an Internet browser to compete with the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer after a story in the New York Post about Google recruiting four staff that worked on Internet Explorer.
As Google continues to confound industry experts and Wall Street analysts with every move, are the prospects of a Google operating system not too far fetched? Pick your favourites and place your stock bets, the Dotcom Era v2.0 has just begun.
(Via Epoch Times)