Today, Google and AOL launched an important new feature for their respective Instant Messaging platforms – server side interoperability.
Imagine if email was (still) a closed system, and you were only allowed to email members of the same system as your own. So if you were using Hotmail and wanted to email someone on Yahoo Mail, you’d first have to create a second account just for that system. Of course, the idea is riduculous and precisely because for the last 15-20 years most email systems have allowed you to send messages to anyone connected on the Internet, email is still one of the most used and powerful technologies we all use in our online lives. For instant messaging, that interoperability has been missing and it has held it back.
But now, AOL’s AIM system – encompassing AIM, AOL and Apple’s Mobile Me service – can add Google Talk users to their contact lists and vice versa.
The cynic in me thinks that this has only come about because Facebook has come along and trounced all the competing networks hopes of somehow making money off their large(-ish) but mostly non-fee paying users. Its hard to try to make make money off a user base that’s been un-monetizable for more than a decade. If you can’t beat Zuck, join together?