Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
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Dave Michels | May 20, 2013 |


Google IO Silent Messages

Google IO Silent Messages The big take-away from this year's IO is that Google isn't serious about the enterprise. Nor should it be.

The big take-away from this year's IO is that Google isn't serious about the enterprise. Nor should it be.

Last week was Google IO, the search Giant's annual developer conference. That really shouldn't be news unless you are a developer, but IO has grown into a major event for Google, complete with announcements and revelations about strategy. Google has lots to say, and lots are interested.

The keynote event, streamed over the Internet, had over 1 million viewers. It is this reason that Google gives little interest to various other conferences--when the firm talks, people listen.

What is the firm messaging? In terms of real-time communications, it was Google Hangouts that stole the show. This post is more about important things that weren't said.

Google Hangouts
As far as real-time communications goes, the big news at IO was the new version of Google Hangouts, which replaces Google Talk and offers a more unified approach to messaging (see The Verge for more information). There's nothing to fault here, at least from what was covered in the Keynote presentation. Though they did skip over a few items.

The big news that came after the glitzy presentations was that Hangouts won't support XMPP or federation with other solutions. This is sadly ironic because during the Keynote, CEO Larry Page talked about the importance of the greater good and specifically faulted Microsoft for lack of cooperation. It's also odd because Google was previously a champion of XMPP and the Open Internet.

"If you take something as simple as IM, we've had an open offer to interoperate forever," Page claimed. "Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us. This is really sad, and not the way to make progress. You can't have people milking off of just one company for their own benefit." He was referring to Microsoft's recent integration of Google Talk into, even though it doesn't allow Google to integrate Outlook functions into Gmail.

That is a known risk of open software and interfaces, particularly since Google's "open offer" didn't have reciprocity requirements. But it's hard to blame Microsoft for creating islands when Google's new Hangouts kills XMPP.

IM interoperation and federation is emerging as one of the hottest enterprise UC requirements. Google's Chee Chew later explained, "We haven't seen significant uptake" in federation with Google Talk via server-to-server connections. The majority of the uptake Google did see was from organizations or individuals looking to bombard Google Talk users with chat spam, Chew said. As a result, server-to-server XMPP has been left out of the consolidated Hangout environment.

That means the new Google Hangouts is as open as Skype--which is likely its competitive target. The problem is, Skype does a lot more than Hangouts on a lot more devices. That's why Google pushed the multi-user free video chat feature, which is reserved for premium Skype users. Also, the new Hangouts is not supported on Blackberry or Microsoft Phone, and at least for now does not support PSTN or SMS. Which is odd because Google Voice does support PSTN and SMS.

This change is significant, Matt Landis writes: "Google Hangouts unplugging support for XMPP has deep ramifications in the industry: This means that interoperability between Google and Microsoft Lync, XMPP/Jabber based solutions like Cisco Jabber, Openfire, Avaya and many others will also lose interoperability."

Google Voice
Once again, Google has no idea what to do with Google Voice. Like Reader, the free Google Voice has sucked the air out of the virtual number space. It offers Google significant potential with enterprise UC, but Google just isn't interested. I can't recall Google Voice ever being mentioned at a Google IO--or any strategic event. It's been some time since Google has done much with Google Voice, and from my personal experience, service quality is degrading. With both key founders Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet now gone from Google and the obvious gap of SMS, PSTN, and voicemail in the new Hangouts, it is likely that Google Voice is destined to follow the path to oblivion paved by Wave, Buzz, Reader, and so many other Google services.

After reviewing web comments over the weekend, Google+ updated its page with the following message: "Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning." I think that that the Hangouts roadmap includes SMS, Voice, and PSTN--but not Google Voice.

Next page: Motor-Whola?


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