Google recently integrated their new Google
Talk network into their popular email service Gmail, adding to their seemingly endless stream of new developments and services and furthering the impression that Google is slowly changing the face of the globe.
Google is arguing that this development effectively ends the separation between ‘chat’ and ’email,’ demolishing a boundry that has existed since the early days of instant messaging. Provided that all goes according to plan, Google Talk will allow users to ditch those ancient AIM accounts that have been around since middle school…and while there may be those who want to hold onto the AIM system for as long as they can, Internet users who have Gmail accounts (which, by this point, most do) will have a lot less of an excuse not to migrate to Google Talk.
However, some would argue that this addition to Google’s service is still not enough to interest people in switching to Google Talk from their current messeging application of choice.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with integrating the two, but it’s not all that useful in most cases either,” said Mike Masnick of Techdirt.com, ” Email and chat are useful in different ways – and while the integration may be convenient, it’s not something that is seen as a real need-to-have.
“Where it actually could get interesting is if it becomes more of an underground way to build presence into the web,” he continued. “If Google starts integrating Google Talk presence info into much more, then things could get a lot more interesting.”
For better or worse, the integration of the two services puts AOL’s messaging service at a disadvantage for a variety of reasons: to use AIM, you need to install a program, or use their clunky online Java application that doesn’t work on most systems. With Gmail, you won’t have to install anything: it’s all built into an online program that works smoothly and simply; and get this: there’s no advertisements.
“There are no ads in your chat sessions or your Quick Contacts list,” boasts Google, in their infamous down-to-earth press release. However, once the chat is saved, Google is free to display their unobtrusive text-ads. This, by itself, is a step over what AIM has to offer with its dated interface, which is well known for displaying annoying blinking ads at the top of your buddy list. To those already constantly plugged in to the Internet, this development is a godsend. “It allows users to keep a constant eye on all of their communications,” said John Biggs, editer of the popular technology blog Gizmodo.com. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the logging features in the IM application I use. It’s as important as being able to search emails.”
In almost every respect, Googletalk seems like a great idea – but Google’s attempt at breaking down the boundries between chat and messeging has some people concerned. In the wired world, where privacy is so hard to come by, the idea of being bombarded by text messages just by logging on to Gmail is terrifying to some. “How much more connected can we get?” said Patrick Phillips the editor of iWantMedia.com “Well, I guess we could have communication devices implanted in our skulls.”