Google Debuts Google Talk Instant Messenger

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Google launched an instant messaging service today in yet another move to compete with America Online, MSN and other players in the IM space.

Google Talk, the instant messaging system, will allow users to send and receive both text and voice messages.

With the free Google Talk application, Google is also expanding the availability of its Gmail e-mail service, which was offered by invitation only.

When users download Google Talk, they can choose to add friends to Google Talk. Those invited to Google Talk will also receive a free e-mail account, if they don't already have one.

"With a Gmail account, users can try both Gmail and Google Talk, and begin inviting their friends and family to talk with them for free over e-mail, IM or a voice call," a statement from Google said.

Besides voice capability, Google Talk differs from some other IM providers in that it will not allow ads or pop-ups.

Google Talk users should be able to communicate with users of other IM services, Google said. To that end, the company is working with Earthlink to unite with its Vling service and with Sipphone, to join in on its Gizmo Project.

"The company is also committed to working with other service providers to create a federation model that enables users on any member network to talk to users on any other member network in a secure and abuse-free manner," Google said.

With the unique offering and Google's notoriety, Google Talk could become a big player in the instant messaging market.

AOL's free AIM service still dominates the market, growing three percent to 30.9 million users in July 2005 versus 30.04 million in the year-ago period, according to comScore Media Metrix, a Chicago market researcher.

However, most other instant messenger providers lost users in the past year.

MSN Messenger's user base fell 11 percent to 23.25 million from 25.98 million this July versus last year's. Yahoo Messenger plummeted 16 percent to 21.6 million from 25.62 million in the same year-over-year period.

Also, the AOL Instant Message service, a proprietary service for AOL subscribers, shed 8 percent of its users, taking its base to 23.08 million in July 2005 compared with 25.09 million in July 2004.

Worst of all was the ICQ instant message service, according to comScore. It was down 64 percent to 1.77 million users in July 2005 versus 4.88 million for the same month last year.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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