As hyped in breathless news articles over the last few days, Google came out with their own IM (instant messaging) client this evening, Google Talk.
VERDICT: Clean, uncluttered, intuitive, and rather unexciting in its current version.
To be frank, I was (somewhat unfairly) disappointed with GTalk. Granted, it’s just v1 of a public beta, so I shouldn’t be so greedy, but… unlike with Gmail, I didn’t see anything that made me go WOW!
Great voice quality? Sure, but Skype has already got that (and also already has a humungous userbase).
Ad-free (at least for now)? Yes, but so is Trillian, the IM app I already use and love. Incidentally, the Pro version of Trillian (a very worthwhile buy, IMHO), along with other clients, can connect to the Google network. This is because Google is smartly and unselfishly running their chat service on the open source Jabber platform.
And indeed, I’m having trouble seeing how Gtalk will gain traction for the time being. AIM, Yahoo, and MSN users really have little incentive to switch, especially since GTalk doesn’t (at least yet) interoperate with the big 3. Trillian users… I can’t see any reason why they’d switch, either. Skype folks? As noted above, I simply can’t forsee any defections.
* * *
Let me sprinkle in a few positive notes, though:
You can run an ’embedded’ form of GTalk within the Google Desktop sidebar. Exit GD, wait a few moments, then restart it. Click the little down-arrow at the top right, select ADD/REMOVE PANELS, and check off Google Talk.
Google Talk replaces the current Gmail Notifier, and that’s handy.
GTalk scans your existing GMail address book, and lets you easily find and invite others to GTalk.
Oh, and there’s a puzzling little easter egg in the About dialog box. Click on the ABOUT link in GTalk (or the sidebar component), and you’ll notice this in light text towards the bottom:
play 23 21 13 16 21 19 . 7 1 13 5
Anyone wanna guess what the significance of that is? 23, undoubtedly, stands for the 23rd of August — the release day, but the rest…? Maybe it’s something that, if you can solve it, you get a Google job offer? Get cracking! 😀
* * *
Anyway, I’m guessing (and hoping) that Googlers have a trick or two up their sleeve with regards to this new product.
What are your thoughts on this?