[ random @ 30.08.2005. 11:51 ] @
[ random @ 30.08.2005. 18:14 ] @
Pošto link izgleda ne radi dobro, evo teksta.

1,2,3,4 -- I Declare IM War
August 29, 2005

Unless you're living under a rock, chances are you've heard that Google announced their Google Talk service recently, which ties into ones Gmail account. Once they acquired a company with an instant messaging solution, speculation was flying about them releasing something, but no one really knew what form it would take.

They've branched out into native Windows software recently, with apps like Google Desktop Search or the Google Toolbar, while at the same time focusing on more services via your browser, like Google Maps. What was announced earlier was a native Windows client that communicates via the Jabber protocol, but we'll only touch upon that in a cursory way.

Rather, we'll be focusing on what wasn't announced, and how Google's competition in the space -- Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo -- will be reacting.

A note about rumors

Once you start developing a network of sources, or rather a network of sources starts developing around you, you learn pretty quickly how rumors and tips work. There are three base classes of rumors: Those that are real, those someone wants to be real, and those that someone wants others to think are real.

Something that has to be kept in mind is that even when a rumor is 'real', what it was based on can change. Decisions inside a company can change, and you have to account for rumors being embellished or altered by the time they reach your ear. I mention this because I don't really talk about rumors much unless I'm hearing similar things from multiple sources, where the specifics might change but the core facts line up.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the solidity of what I'm about to tell you a 9, but things can change, especially once the info hits the web. My sources are anonymous, and will stay that way even if someone tries to pull an Apple, but they're solid. I think what we're going to talk about is important, and in everyone's best interests to be aware of because it's going to directly affect you.

The Triumvirate

When it comes to instant messaging, there are basically three players...

* Microsoft, with their MSN Messenger service.
* Yahoo, with Yahoo Messenger
* AOL, with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ. ICQ is old school, but still has a substantial following -- especially outside of North America.

There are others, but their share amounts to rounding errors, and I'll just refer to them as the Triumvirate. Chances are you may be aware of this, but what you may not be aware of is just how chummy all three of these guys are. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for better or worse, instant messaging has become a 'comfortable' space. It's growing quickly, but no one sees any real way to make money on it, and no one is pushing too hard against the others.

Best laid plans

In fact, at various times, some of the companies have looked at letting one of the others take over their IM service. It'd still be theirs, and they'd still have their client, but as an example the server side may be routed through an MSN service, instead of Yahoo bulking up their servers for something which is necessary but is rapidly becoming a commodity -- if it didn't actually start out as one. Much of this ties into MSN and Yahoo and AOL all trying to transition to SOA's (service-oriented architectures) where what's being provided is more important than how.

Anywho, as time has gone on, these transitions have been underway, and these types of talks have been underway, but while each wants users for their service it's only a loosely competitive space. No one is kicking over the table to get users to switch, they're simply trying to tie the users they have into their other services while sucking in newcomers as they come along. They all have these carefully laid plans for the future, and how they're going to tie x into y to benefit z.

All of this stuff is starting to weave together, or at least they're trying to. I.E., your Apple ID is tied to your forum account, which is tied to your iTMS account which is tied to your Apple Store account which is tied to... Everyone is trying to weave their services together to dig in.

This competitive situation isn't very abnormal, as it takes a large amount of infrastructure -- and with it cash -- to run these types of services. With only a few players in the game, who are all growing comfortably, no one is seriously wanting to rock the boat and change the game right now. I wouldn't hold it against you if the IM situation seems eerily similar to the state of free email services before Google entered the game.

Enter Google Talk

Word had spread pretty early to the Triumvirate that Google had something in the works for instant messaging. They get their own share of rumors, but while this was a concern it wasn't really a surprise, and no one really knew what they had planned.

Possibilities were mapped out, and surprises were allotted for, but without really knowing what Google's secret project would look like there was little to do except continue with business as usual.

However, not long after it was announced on the web that Google admitted to having acquired an IM company -- without saying what their plans were -- word got out to the Triumvirate that not only was Google planning a native chat client for Windows, they were planning on having a multi-protocol chat client for Windows.

They completely wigged out.

A short primer on the network effect

The network effect says that some devices are more valuable as more people have them. If you buy a hammer, it doesn't become more valuable when your neighbor also buys one, excepting that he's less likely to want to borrow yours. However, when your neighbor buys a telephone, your telephone is more valuable because there's one more person it can reach.

The network effect can work in different ways, or rather at different levels. For example, you probably have an email address. As someone else gets their first email address, yours is more valuable because there's another person you can send to and vice versa. With IM networks -- as they currently exist -- it works a little differently. If you have an AIM screen name, the value of it increases only when someone else gets an AIM screen name. If they are using MSN or Yahoo or something weird, they can't talk to you.

The clear difference is that (for the most part) email is a standard, and the clients all interoperate. It doesn't matter what platform or client you use, but with instant messaging it very much does.

Yes, I said multi-protocol

Multi-protocol IM clients allow you to sign onto multiple services via one application, instead of several. They exist for every platform that I'm aware of, and while you generally have to make some concessions in forgoing some features of the "native" clients, they bring with them their own benefits.

Since Google Talk currently just talks to itself and other Jabber clients, you'll be forgiven for being confused. It's unknown whether they planned to initially release it as a multi-protocol application and have scaled it back, or whether it's planned for the future, but they are planning to do it. The problem for Google is that while they have massive mindshare, and can get a bunch of geeks to sign up and play, most already have a healthy IM rolodex -- all on services that aren't Google Talk.

Initially, this isn't a huge problem for Google. They're going to have to work out kinks, and their mindshare is such -- and how they release software is such -- that a lot of people are going to want to get it and play around. These are primarily going to be geeks and early adopters and those that want to be both, but at some point Google is going to need the normal users.

Normal users often don't run more than one chat client -- they generally gravitate towards one service because it's where all their friends happen to be. They may well have names on more than one service, but they're generally only regularly signing into one. They can be talked into signing up for Google Talk by a friend, and they'll have that friend on the service and perhaps a few more, but they're still left with a ton of people who are on the one of the Triumvirate's services.

This is where growth will sputter, because the other services have a massive amount of inertia on their side -- the network effect -- and Google Talk is only as valuable as the amount of people you're able to talk to.

The problem for the Triumvirate

As mentioned, multi-protocol chat apps exist on just about every platform. Mac OS X has three that I'm aware of, and Windows has its own, Trillian being the most popular. These are primarily just nuisances to the major networks, because:

1. All of them are just hitching a ride on the network, but just to chat, they aren't trying to tie it into other services, and hence aren't serious competition.
2. None of them have the mindshare, nor resources, to be a credible threat. They're primarily just viewed as small parasites -- or remoras, depending upon your view.

However, Google is both of the above, and then some. Every person they tie into their Google Talk service is tied into their Gmail service and whatever else they have planned for the future, and they have a hefty pot of gold from their IPO and, you know, actual revenue is doing well by Google. However, the killer is mindshare.

Not everything Google has touched has turned to gold, but for the majority of their initiatives their entrance into a market has been staggering for those already making a go of it. Gmail is just now coming out of beta, although everyone I know already has an account and its completely changed the landscape of service-based email accounts.

They're going to make a splash with Google Talk, and people are going to want to download it and play, but eventually their mindshare is going to crash on the wall of momentum the existing services have built for themselves. People are going to have to keep their other chat clients to talk to their friends for now, and that gives the services breathing room to work out how to respond. However, by having a multi-protocol app, Google is wiping out their momentum in one swoop, and you can understand why they're freaking out.

There'll still be issues with things like A/V and file transfer, which is good for the Triumvirate, but they'll often work in favor of someone talking to a Google Talk user just picking up a Google Talk account instead. In these situations, Google has zero to lose and everything to gain.

Open war

Within the last few weeks, there appears to have been a meeting between MSN, Yahoo and AOL. They'd all been talking amongst themselves -- and sparsely with each other -- about how to respond to Google, but were still trying to make up their minds.

This meeting made it official: It's three against one, indirectly.

Specifically, sometime in the near future, all three services are going to be releasing new versions of their software and "Sunsetting" all older versions of their Windows clients. From what I can tell, Microsoft is spearheading the initiative, but the other two are going to follow.

Generally, each service has its own protocols and they do well to keep older versions in mind when they release a new client, because they want as many people on the network as possible. However, that's going to be going away -- you'll use the new client, or you won't chat on their networks.

This is far from ideal, and is going to cause them a ton of headaches, but they feel they have little choice as they can't allow Google to augment their massive incoming mindshare with their service's own momentum.

The fallout

The fallout from this is going to have a dramatic impact, at least initially, and I'm not just talking about tens of millions of people having to upgrade their chat clients to the most recent version. At least one of the services isn't planning on filtering anything but Windows traffic, which means Gaim and AdiumX and Fire and Proteus and such will be ok for that service.

However, while I don't know about alternative platforms, I do know anything on Windows is in serious trouble, including Gaim and Trillian .

Unless Cerulean Studios (authors of Trillian) can negotiate access with the individual services, their client will be gone. Each service will probably handle this in a different way, and while I've tasted breadcrumbs like "SSL" left about, it's unclear how each one will do it and will most likely be a combination of different techniques.

Can they even do that?

There are two sides to this question:

* Can they do that technically?

Oh yes, they can most certainly make third party access all but impossible, providing they take the drastic action of sunsetting all earlier versions. At the very least, they can make it so difficult for third parties to keep up -- and reverse engineer what they're doing -- that its such a nightmare few if any will bother.

Historically they haven't had much luck in keeping others off their networks, but they haven't really tried that hard, either. Backwards compatibility was always paramount, so they only had a small technical window to operate in, but by mandating new clients and filtering for anything coming in via Microsoft Windows it's Game On. Certificates, SSL, the whole bit.

* Can they do that legally?

The only one of the services I was curious about was AOL, as back when they merged with Time Warner there was concern a monster might be being created when it came to the internet and distribution. The FCC gave AOL a choice: Allow third parties on the network, or forgo integrating A/V into your client.

AOL chose the former, and created a separate way for clients to access their IM network. It doesn't contain all of the features that the official client has access to, so the majority of third parties eschew it in favor of reverse engineering the protocols AOL itself uses. Theoretically, this would allow someone like Google to come along and tap into it, and have a legal right to demand it.

However, for some time AOL has been arguing that they shouldn't be bound by this agreement any longer, claiming the market is still open enough to allow the entry of other players just fine, and that agreements like the one they have with Apple for their .Mac service are a better way to go. It appears the FCC has decided AOL has a serious point, and this won't be a factor.

Now, if you're a geek, your mind is automatically going to go, "Well, they can try, but it'll just get reverse-engineered eventually and..." but that's a trap. You'd be right -- any protection scheme has a habit of getting broken eventually -- but the key isn't about making it foolproof so much as so difficult no one is going to try to base anything serious on it.

This is going to be way behind reverse engineering the protocols, and they're well aware of everything going over the networks and equally aware of how to shut it down -- it just requires retiring all older clients.

Even setting aside technical issues, sunsetting all the previous clients -- and with it eschewing backwards compatibility -- means protections can be added that could well bring in clauses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) if anyone tried. It wouldn't stop a hacker or cracker from giving it a go, but it would be a serious hurdle for someone trying to reverse engineer access.

The backlash

One of the amusing things about this drastic action is that it's going probably going to increase Google's mindshare and momentum in the short term. If Joe Public hears that something Google is putting out is immediately putting all the others on defensive -- and in a drastic way -- it elevates Google, which has zero share, onto a mental level where it's as big as the established players.

People are more likely to be curious, and go check their new product out, but it's also the kind of mindshare boost you can't buy. From what I can tell the services are entirely aware of this, but the alternative is just so much scarier for them. Damned if you do and damned if you don't, but they're figuring that this way they might be damned a little less.

The other side to the backlash is the idea of purposefully shutting out people who want to use a different client, whether it be Google Talk or Trillian or something else. Since I use a third party client myself, I get it, however they do have a decent argument for Joe Public here: It's their network and resources, and it costs them money to run it and support it.

Wrapping up

In the short term, there are going to be a ton of headaches going around because of this. It's going to be rough, however I don't believe Google is changing events so much as accelerating them, much as they did when Gmail entered the market. At the time there were competing services, but no one was really going balls-to-the-wall against the others.

Practically overnight, the world (Excluding users of Apple's .Mac service) went from clearing out old messages from their accounts so new ones wouldn't bounce to storage being a non-issue. Basically, we all would have had 1 gigabyte of email space eventually, as over time the services would have had to compete more heavily for users, but Google pushed forward the timetable.

Over time multi-protocol is probably going to be the future, as being tied to one service to communicate is good for the company but bad for the user. If you could only email people on MSN from your MSN account, or Yahoo accounts from your Yahoo email, you'd think it was stupid, yet here we are with instant messaging for the foreseeable future. It's sad in a way, and things like Jabber could theoretically make it a non-issue, but until Google Talk, Jabber was gaining little traction in the grand scheme of things.

Circumstances would probably lead to the Triumvirate becoming less chummy and competing harder against each other eventually, which is Good Thing™ for the user. We'd get there eventually, but while Google's entry into the IM market is initially bringing them closer together as they circle the wagons -- which is going to cause headaches -- it will hopefully speed up the timeline for serious competition between all the parties.

posted by drunkenbatman at: 04:13 AM
[ momsab @ 30.08.2005. 18:55 ] @
a ICQ? gde je ICQ u txtu?

nisam čitao txt, samo sam "preleteo"
ne znam, ovo mi liči na prenaduvavanje...

[Ovu poruku je menjao momsab dana 30.08.2005. u 21:04 GMT+1]
[ Ni ten ichi ryu @ 30.08.2005. 19:04 ] @
da, ali google talk je izasao tek pre par dana.
a ICQ ima neuporedivo manji broj korisnika od yahoo/msn/aim zlikovaca ;]
[ random @ 30.08.2005. 19:12 ] @
momsab: a ICQ? gde je ICQ u txtu?


momsab: nisam čitao txt, samo sam "preleteo".
ne znam, ovo mi liči na prenaduvavanje...

Nisi čitao, ali iznosiš mišljenje. Ekspert, nema šta.

momsab: koliko vidim, ne spominje se jabber (Google Talk je jabber)...

Imaš u browseru opciju Find in this page, ukucaj tu "Jabber" pa ćeš videti da se spominje (kad te već mrzi da čitaš).

I, molim vas, nemojte više ovakve komentare, i nemojte da tražite da vam neko prepričava tekst, moderisaću diskusiju.
[ momsab @ 30.08.2005. 20:03 ] @
[offtopic]txt o IM ratu a google talk se pojavio pre neki dan?[/offtopic]

izvinjavam se što nisam pročitao neki OGROOOOOOOOOOMAN txt koji je na prvi pogled prenaduvan. mislim, kakav IM rat kad to lepo radi brez problema? ovo je samo na prvi pogled sa sporim skrolovanjem

pročitaću natenane ceo txt tek za 2 sedmice... ne mogu ranije, imam ispit...
sad sam pogledao sa jabber-om u pretrazi, obrisaću pitanje u vezi jabbera :)

[Ovu poruku je menjao momsab dana 30.08.2005. u 21:04 GMT+1]
[ cicika @ 30.08.2005. 21:00 ] @
kakav IM rat kad to lepo radi brez problema?

Semantički nelogično i nerazumljivo. Drugo, nemoj se javljati u diskusiju ako nisi pročitao opis teme, ružno je prema onima koji jesu potrošili odredjeno vreme da pročitaju. Uopšte često imaš nešto da kažeš a da to nema nikakvog smisla.

Tekst nije prenaduvan, vrlo je logična analiza trenutne ponude IM servera i onoga što se može desiti stupanjem na scenu nekoga tako velikog kao što je Google i ko stalno unosi nekakve novitete korisnicima web-a. Veliki udar na druge IM sisteme je to što je na primer Google odmah ponudio VoIP (Vrzo, je l' ima neki jabber klijent koji nudi ovu mogućnost?) a logično je da je pritom ostao zatvoren ka drugim jabber serverima.

Sigurno je da MSN, AOL i Yahoo! moraju da se udruže i da odreaguju na vreme.

Inače suština ove analize je ovde:

....Google pushed forward the timetable... it will hopefully speed up the timeline for serious competition between all the parties.

[ momsab @ 30.08.2005. 22:50 ] @
cicika, izvinio sam se... obrisaću prethodne poruke pošto su offtopic...

odgovor na tvoje pitanje upućeno Vrzi se nalazi ovde
[ mulaz @ 30.08.2005. 22:57 ] @
eh.. jos uvek moze svako da uzme gaim ili nesto slicno.. prijavi se na svaki k**** od IM networka.. ubaci accounte.. i chatuje.
ja vidim problem samo u native programima za svaku mrezu.. zato sto bi onda neko morao da ima po 5, 6 programa za IM ukljuucenih istovremeno.. vise programa = vise resourca
[ Stator @ 31.08.2005. 16:12 ] @
Yahoo uzvraca udarac!


Free Worldwide PC-to-PC Calls

All you need is a headset, or a microphone and speakers. It's that easy - just click the Call button.

Drag-and-Drop Photos

Need something to talk about? Just drag and drop pictures into your IM window to share them with your friends.

More Features

New ways to import contacts, improved file transfer, spam reporting, contact cards, and more.

For Windows 98/Me, 2000, and XP. Other versions: Mac - Unix
[ random @ 01.09.2005. 21:29 ] @
I’d like to let everybody know that Google will support open server-to-server federation, This will not happen immediately. We are still writing the code for server-to-server and we will test server-to-server with a few partners before opening it up.

Gary Burd on the JDev mailing list
[ becheery @ 21.09.2005. 20:17 ] @
Hm, kod Yahooo-a fino radi sve osim deljenja fotki jer imam probleme pri samom preuzimanju slike, mozda sam to samo ja...

A sad moje uitanjce. Sta kazete na alternative nastale od ne tako velikih firmi kao Microsoft, yahoo ili Google?

Pre neki dan sam naleteo na reklamu pa rekoh da isprobam IMVU.

Chat u cudnom 3D okruzenju sa mnogo vise emocija i animacije....

Proverite alternativu...
[ Mister Big Time @ 21.09.2005. 23:32 ] @
OMG. Prvo webmailovi, sad IM servisi. Ja znam da cu uvek ostati na ICQ, i Jabber moze da bude kao sekundarna zamena. Skype za VoIP.
[ Srđan Krstić @ 24.09.2005. 05:48 ] @
Svako ima svoje zahteve kad bira im protokol koji ce da koristi, meni sigurno ne bi bilo bitno 3D okruzenje :), ali nebitno. Poenta je u tome sto (bar je kod mene tako) moras da se prilagodjavas drugima. Kad imas nekog sa kim hoces da budes u kontaktu, a on koristi samo jedan protokol, hteo-ne hteo moras da koristis taj protokol... Zato se i slazem da je ipak multi-protokol najbolje resenje za sad. I takodje se slazem sa remark-om na kraju texta da iz svega sto se desava na im sceni moze mnogo izuzetno pozitivnih stvari da se desi. Konkurencija je uvek dobra stvar!

@Mister Big Time:
Da, a sta ces sa onima koji koriste samo yahoo ili samo AIM (koji je za 0xFFFFFF koplja popularniji od svega ostalog u USA, a lame je jer nema offline poruke)... Ne mogu da verujem da se nisi naso u takvoj situaciji do sad. Ako se iz nekog razloga neko hoce da ogranici na jedan protokol, neka to bar bude jabber, pa da moze kroz transporte da koristi ostale protokole...
[ random @ 24.09.2005. 19:58 ] @
Kod ove priče nije toliko važno koji klijent ima bogatiji feature set ili lepši interfejs (jer klijenti se menjaju iz dana u dan), već kakva mu je interoperabilnost sa drugim mrežama. Korišćenje multi-protokol klijenta je pragmatično rešenje za krajnjeg korisnika u ovom trenutku, ali za sam problem sindikacije između sistema ne predstavlja nikakvo rešenje.

Neko reče "ja znam da ću uvek ostati na ICQ". A šta ako svi tvoji prijatelji pređu na drugi protokol? I onda ćeš ostati? I druga stvar, šta misliš, zašto ICQ ne uvede sindikaciju sa Jabber mrežom, da možeš iz ICQ klijenta da chatuješ sa Jabber korisnicima? Zar to ne bi bila sjajna stvar? Niko ne bi morao nigde da prelazi, ili da bira, ili da uopšte razmišlja o tome. Šta misliš, da li će AOL (velika američka kompanija koja poseduje ICQ, kao i tvoje poruke koje šalješ preko njega) to učiniti i zašto?

[Ovu poruku je menjao random dana 24.09.2005. u 20:58 GMT+1]