Google Talk Spins Google in New Direction
Since Google Talk launched last week the focus of a lot of discussions about the Internet giant have turned from search results & rankings to messaging, downloads & chatting. With the release of the Google Sidebar desktop tool and Google Talk Instant Messenger, Google has entered into the high paced tech communications marketplace which is cornered by Microsoft, AOL, Google and a little VOIP company named Skype. Additionally, work beyond the net oriented companies and Google is also running up against Vonage, Verizon, and other Bell’s. With Google’s new communications oriented direction comes a world of critique, competition, and speculation.
Some believe that Google’s main target in this new web communications market is Skype, the VOIP messaging company which built VOIP as a household communications tool from the ground up. Although Google’s Google Talk offers VOIP computer to computer calling services, its overall offering is quite white bread.
There is no PC to phone application, no super Google-rific apps, nothing to really escalate the application above current messaging systems. Because of so, Tribeworks believes that Skype is an obvious acquisition target for Google because of its revenue potential and established popularity. “Skype has a potential advertising revenue stream with Skype In and Out. This is attractive to Google as their revenue is very ad-based. In the future, Google needs to have new revenue streams to justify its stock price. Skype In and Out present a new revenue stream for them.”
Besides, keeping Google Talk simplified for now makes sense if Google is planning on adapting another technology. The transition from Google Talk’s current Jabber platform to Skype would be quite simple as the only thing differentiating Google Talk from other open apps is the Google GMail member identification.
However, perhaps Google is not in need of such an acquisition. Google could easily a Skype-esque method for Google Talk users to make external calls to home or work based land lines or cellular phones, and Google could possibly become the Ma Bell of web communications. A pay per call model similar to Skype-out is a no brainer and may be a reality with Google planning on launching a Google Pay service sometime soon.
Additionally, a video feed subscription service may be another future add on – and not just a rumor. Google is currently looking for a Sr. Video Conferencing Engineer to develop a digital video conferencing application for Google to roll out on a global scale according to a HotJobs posting. By adding video conferencing to the mix, Google would bring a unique offering to the Instant Messaging table to move it beyond the other Skype, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL offerings.
Google Talk and Advertising – So, where are the AdSense ads on Google Talk? I mean, this is a Google app like GMail – how will they monetize it beyond possible outbound calls? Well, perhaps Google will not need such advertising on Google Talk or Google Sidebar. Registered users have been Google’s weak point up until these launches because there was no central base to connect all of Google’s login oriented applications.
Critics of Google have always said that its popularity could crash as easily as it grew without a strong offering beyond search. Until recently, the stickiest user base Google had was its Orkut social network, which took off like wildfire in Brazil but never really reached the capacity of LiveJournal or Friendster in the United States.
If Google Talk takes off to even achieve a small Instant Messaging market share, integrated Google applications should drive more users to Google Search (and AdWords ads), GMail, Google apps for major communications, desktop search, feed aggregation (via Sidebar), and Google Local. Meaning, more Google Talk users equals more revenue across the entire Google network. Why ruin the growth of Google Talk via serving controversial advertising on it? Google, by keeping Google Talk controversy free, will shuttle its growth and acceptance. Google Talk should develop itself into a self-sufficient product, not having to break the trust of its user-base with conversation or behavioral targeted advertising. Such a direction would also position itself as the alternative messaging tool for users sick of AOL and MSN ads across their desktops.
Google Talk is no flash in the pan. It brings Google into a new light across many desktops and opens up the market for more communications and mobile integration. Expect Google to smartly grow in this market via acquisitions and innovation. Wi-Fi, VOIP, cellular phone, and ISP markets are all on the table from here on out. How Google handles itself and its business plan is yet to be seen, but the key to the game is delivering information to the masses, something that other competition may not be keeping in mind. What is the future of Google, Google Talk, and their role in the communications field? Your thoughts are welcomed below in the comments thread.