So What?

2005-10-12

Well, it seems that end users of MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger will soon be able IM with each other. Gosh, that's so '90s! Jeff Pulver explains:

As far as I can tell, the only possible reason Yahoo! and MSN got together to share their networks was to create a reason for the people who were once actively using their IM services, to come back. In the six years since AOL, Yahoo! and MSN were not allowing IM traffic from each other on their respective networks, the entire IM landscape has changed. These days it is the success of Skype attracting millions of active IMers away from the "traditional" IM networks of: AOL/MSN/Yahoo!/ICQ, coupled with Jabber's continued success in the Enterprise IM space and Google's recent entry into the consumer IM market space that collectively eroded the market share of active IM users away from the "traditional" IM players that finally gave a reason for some of the "traditional" IM competitors to find a way to work together.

Pulver ends thusly:

I look ahead to the time when we can all give out our IM-VoIP SIP and email URI, using a format similar to: firstname.lastname@example.com, which in the process eliminates the need to give someone a telephone number. The services (or should I say applications?) will use the SIMPLE/SIP standards to interwork, just as phone companies do today.

Not so fast, there, Jeff. Both the rapid growth of Jabber-based deployments in the enterprise IM space (especially the early adopters at the investment banks and U.S. government) and the release of Google Talk indicate the strength of XMPP as a key technology real-time communications, especially textual and data-heavy communications. (In fact, I received Jeff's blog entry from a PubSub.com keyword match delivered via the Mimir service, both of which use XMPP to push out RSS and Atom feeds in real time.) The SIMPLE extensions to SIP may be of interest to those who have the luxury of waiting, but those who need to build competitive advantage today rather than 5 years from now use Jabber/XMPP technologies to get the job done. (And I continue to doubt that there will be one ring to bind them all. People will have a mix of email addresses, xmpp addresses, skype addresses, sip addresses, and much else besides for a long time to come.)

That said, we see an emerging standards-based network of XMPP and SIP services. Google Talk does XMPP for IM and voice negotiation, and promises to add SIP support in the future. SIPphone does SIP for voice and now also XMPP for IM. Other large service providers (BellSouth, Orange, etc.) and enterprises (FedEx, EDS, etc.) have already deployed XMPP for IM and may deploy SIP-compatible XMPP extensions (or SIP itself) for call setup. One of the big questions is: what will Skype do? MSN, Yahoo, and AIM are legacy systems at this point. GoogleTalk, SIPphone, Skype, big ISPs and telephony providers, and major enterprises are where the action is. As I've argued before, it's in Yahoo's interest to go open and join the emerging standards-based network. Instead, they've chosen to get in bed with Microsoft. But don't think that this is the end of the story. Heck, for all I know they're going to use XMPP for their server-to-server connectivity... ;-)


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal