Google goes live with IM: Google Talk

It was inevitable. It’s open. It’s free. The Google Talk service is reportedly live and it’s oblivious to the IM client. It’s not clear what Google’s strategy is though. How will they monetize on this service?

One possibility is to accumulate data on social networks and circles, then mine and analyze the data for interesting customer intelligence based on their social networking habits, time spent online etc. This won’t result in direct revenues, however, it will result in better user intelligence. In fact, simply putting this service out there will give rise to so much speculation that Google might even get ideas from it’s fans (and critics alike) as to what direction to take this in.

Another remote possibility is that google might analyze the conversations in real time and after every few messages, send their own text message ad. While google might even be able to achieve this to a limited extend, its doubtful users will tolerate such intrusiveness or even the disruptiveness it is likely to cause. Further, this can easily be filtered by the client so it would be safew to rule out this possibility.

it’s possible they create a service on top of IM which is sort of a query language allowing users to perform search directly through IM by issuing a special command like:

/g pizza delivery

Which would automatically return phone numbers for pizza delivery based on user demographics (much like their SMS model). A query language for IM could get complex, but if they provide an interface users can always enhance the UI to make the experience a GUI based one instead of command line queries. In either case, this capability also exists with existing clients where anyone can write a chatbot which can query other search engines or services and display the results in the chat window.

It’s always been part of Google’s strategy to build systems, open up their APIs and let the developers build apps and tools around it. They simply sit back and collect data, mine that data and gain user intelligence for better ad targetting or simply providing a better user experience and increasing karma. They are driving harder to enhance their user intellgience–Google Web Accelerator was one of their efforts at getting in the user’s space and pretty much looking over their shoulder. Ofcourse, GWA came under a lot of fire and is currently no longer available for download.

In face of MSN, AIM and Yahoo! this is going to be a tough space for Google to compete–it’s not like search. Search is a tough problem which creates a barrier for entry into market. Whatever value they try to add to Google talk, can easily be replicated by Microsoft, Yahoo or AOL and this is going to be a tough market to crack (if ever).

See the Google Talk page when it becomes available.


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