In the early days of the PC revolution you needed 4
or 5 email
addresses to be able to reach everyone. Since none of the systems
communicated with each other, you would need separate addresses to
communicate with people using different systems. For example, you needed a CompuServe address to
exchange email with people on Compuserve, a Prodigy address to
exchange email with those users, an AOL address... well you get the
point. Business cards were crammed with 5 or more email addresses.
Eventually, each system connected to the Internet system and ISPs
forwarded email to other systems and receive email from other systems.
Today, your business card just needs one email address, that anyone in
the world regardless of country, ISP or software program they may be
using, can use to contact you.
The instant messaging and
voice worlds are still in the dark ages
compared to email. To message everyone, you have to create accounts on
every system, which gives you an unwieldy list of accounts and
to keep track of. And you need to install AOL Messenger, MSN, Yahoo!,
and others to be able to reach the entire world. Many of these programs
commandeer your computer by changing your homepage, adding tool bars,
installing unrelated software, bombarding you with advertising and
grinding your computer to a halt. Blech!
You shouldn't have to juggle multiple accounts and a massive library of
software just to send instant messages or do voice calls to other
people. These companies should agree to forward and receive IM or voice
calls to other networks - just as they do with messages in the free
email services they offer.
SIPphone is not
the first to call for cooperation and open directories
between IM and voice providers. When Microsoft and Yahoo! launched
own instant messaging systems, they called on then-leader AOL to open
their AIM network. At the time AOL bemoaned technical complexities and
security concerns although they seemed to have no problems connecting
the ICQ system they purchased with AIM. But as Microsoft and AOL grew
their own user bases their public position regarding open directories
quietly changed and now they are no different than AOL, refusing to
connect with anyone else.
Which leads us to the launch of Google Talk and Gizmo Project networks,
which are now fully connected. When users start up their Gizmo Project software they are
informed of a new version which they can upgrade to with a single
click. The new version of Gizmo Project lets users contact Google Talk
as easily as another Gizmo Project user. It's full IM integration so
they can of course exchange text messages, but also nicely handle
address book invitations and display presence information (whether
someone is available, away, etc). We are testing voice in our labs and
hope to add that capability shortly.
A skeptic might say that Gizmo Project and Google Talk are agreeing to
cooperate to try and catch the big three (MSN, AOL, and Yahoo!), which
course we would like to do. But this is more than just a corporate
strategy. My personal belief is the world needs open directories for
instant messaging and voice just as we did with email. I'd believe that
if Gizmo Project was the largest or smallest network. It's the only
rationale way for the world to work because it's easiest for consumers
and lets them choose the service that best suits their need rather
than getting locked into a proprietary system. This is why we launched IM Federation which is
encouraging the world to work together. We're excited to see Google act
on their public commitment to open their directory.
I expect other larger networks to join Google Talk and Gizmo Project in
the coming months. I hope this momentum will put pressure on AOL,
Skype, MSN, and Yahoo! to play nicely with others. These companies
should compete by offering the best software and service not by locking
consumers inside their network and competitors out.
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