Friday, July 28, 2006

Google Talk Upgrade!

Google has released an upgrade for Google Talk today. I like the way that Google Talk upgrades happen automatically without you having to download and install something. In fact, it doesn't even require you to restart the messenger.

This upgrade brings in three new features.

1. File Transfer: This has been the most requested feature among users of Google Talk. Users can now send an unlimited number of files to other Google Talk users. There is no limit on the file size either. MSN and Yahoo Messenger have had this feature for ages now.

2. Voicemail: Now this is something interesting. You can leave a voicemail for your Google Talk buddies if they're not available. The best part is that if the other person is not a Google talk user he/she will get the voicemail as an email attachment. That's pretty cool. The Voicemail message can be up to 10 minutes long. I know that Yahoo messenger has a similar feature but I don't think MSN does.

3. Music Status: As the name suggests, Google Talk will display the title of the song that you're currently listening to on your status. Currently, 4 music players are supported - iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp and Yahoo Music Engine. Again, both Yahoo and MSN messenger already have this feature. However, if I'm not wrong, they support a smaller number of music players.

All of the above upgrades are nothing new to the IM world. If anything, Google is just playing catch up with the likes of Yahoo and MSN. But its good to know that they are at least working on releasing upgrades to this product unlike the case of other Google products which have been left a bit too raw for too long.

Google Talk's performance in the IM market has been miserable to say the least. It's been a year since the launch of Google Talk, but they still have only a miniscule 1% of the IM market share. According to the New York Times, Google Talk had only 44, 000 active users in June.

While this upgrade is good, I don't think it will do anything to improve Google Talk's and low market acceptance. I don't see IM users shifting from one service to another because of an extra feature or two. They will stick to the IM service in which they can find all their friends/colleagues. Its the same thing as with social networking sites. Once all your friends are on MySpace for example, you're not gonna move from it just because another site pops up with better features.

What I think Goolge needs to do is to use its search and email domination in an innovative way to attract more users to Google Talk. The fact that they integrated Google chat functionality to Gmail is proof that they have started working in that direction.



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