Interoperability between instant messaging (IM) clients is something a lot of users have wished for. More specifically, we wish it was standard and provided right out of the box instead of having to turn to third parties such as Adium, Digsby, Trillian, or Pidgin. Yet there seems to be a problem with the concept of interoperability for the companies of the more popular IM clients.
Yahoo Chat and Google Talk To Get Cozy?
Recently Yahoo and Google announced a partnership for advertising. Yahoo will run advertisements provided by Google alongside the companies own advertisements. However, what was overlooked was the statement that both companies "agreed to enable interoperability between their respective instant-messaging services, bringing easier and broader communication to users".
Companies like Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft try to do things that are beneficial for their entire community and not just for small portions of it. Stephan Shankland noted that:
"AOL said in a statement, in effect, that I am indeed an anomaly. "We have no evidence that interoperating with other consumer IM services is of great interest to AIM users," the company said."
This may come as a huge "ouch!" to early adopters, social media fanatics, and generally those that network online 24/7. Such users only represent a small portion of these immense networks. While they may be the users that push the envelope and can help the tools that these companies produce become better and more productive, AOL understands that the average users probably won't care.
In acknowledging this, interoperability becomes more of a distant dream than a reality. In layman's terms, it seems interoperability won't happen unless there's a major push from the majority of users or it's somehow beneficial financially for any of the parties involved. This may be a sad conclusion for some.
What it Could Mean
If Yahoo and Google do open up their respective clients to one another, this will be a very beneficial move to both parties because they have already integrated other platforms: Yahoo with Live Messenger and Google with AIM. Also, If it does happen users will at least have the option to pick between the two and get the best of the majority of these networks. If you have the majority of your contacts on Yahoo and Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger would be the best platform for you with the added benefit of Google Talk interoperability. If you have more contacts on Google and AIM, then Google Talk would be the better choice with the benefit of integrating your Yahoo contacts too.
However, is this really enough? I don't think it'll keep users from using third party clients that enable interoperability between all of these networks and more. Digsby is poised to take a serious amount from the market share of the standard clients because of its interoperability not only with IM clients, but also because of the integrated social networks and even email. It makes me wonder if maybe Digsby is poised to be the "Firefox" of instant messaging if the dominating players aren't careful. What do you think?