Google Talks the Talk
If there's one sure way of measuring how worried VOIP companies are about Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) new “Google Talk” product, it's to count the number of companies saying that they're not worried (see Google Launches IM).
By that measure, the two most worried about the new instant messenger client, which also allows for voice conversations between users, are Vonage Holdings Corp. and Skype Technologies SA.
Google Talk is "only" available to folks with a Google email (Gmail) account, which is a lot of people.
Skype's so worried it used Google Talk's launch day to draw attention to its own instant messaging coup. The company said Wednesday that it will open its code to developers so that Skype IM and presence functionality can be built into things like eBay merchant pages and media players.
Skype spokeswoman Kelly Larabee does not believe Skype will lose significant numbers of users to Google Talk. “We are focused on this (voice) market; this is what we do,” Larabee says (see Researchers Vet VOIP's Value). “Consumers tend to respect the company that does what they do better than anyone else.” “When people think of what Google does, they think of search,” she adds.
“We don’t view ourselves as being in direct completion with instant messaging products with voice,” says Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz. “We see ourselves as a replacement for traditional phone service.”
“We welcome them to the market; we think it’s a great idea for them to get into voice and chat," Schulz adds. "It’s an obvious compliment to their business, which is advertising.”
One differentiating feature of Google Talk is the fact that it can communicate with other kinds of IM clients like Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iChat and Adium. Google says any IM client that supports the Jabber/XMPP code language can instant message with Google Talk.
As for the voice part of the application, Google says it is now working with EarthLink Inc. and Sipphone for interoperation with EarthLink's Vling service and SIPphone's Gizmo project.
In July 2005, Google maintained its lead in the U.S. search market with 36.5 percent of all searches submitted, followed by Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) at 30.5 percent and MSN at 15.5 percent, according to research by ComScore Networks.
Google will leverage its lead in search as it enters an IM market dominated by AOL (NYSE: TWX), MSN, and Yahoo. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, AOL’s IM service had 54 million unique users in the U.S. in July, while MSN had 28 million and Yahoo had 21 million.
A recent study by Sandvine Inc. shows that Skype dominates the North American VOIP market with 36 percent of the calls originating or terminating in U.S. networks. But the thing that scares competitors about Google is that the company has entered all of its technology battles late and, through good technology and better branding, has won each time.
So, really, there's no reason to worry...
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading