Technology

Is Google's IM/VoIP Combo Worth It?

Find out if Google's marriage of IM and VoIP is worthy of raves.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Google's new Google Talk isn't the best VoIP phone service; Skype is. It isn't the best IM service; that title goes to AOL Instant Messenger. Google Talkis likely to disappoint both high-volume VoIP and IM aficionados.

But casual users will find it a convenient blend of both mediums nicely integrated with Gmail, whose responsiveness and innovative message archiving make it an acceptable office e-mail system. Unlike AOL, MSN and Yahoo! web mail, Gmail is useful for something more than personal or backup messaging. What Google brings to the party is the successful integration of several hot-hot-hot communications technologies under one intuitive and sprightly interface.

Still, there's no way the first version of anything can be best of breed from a feature standpoint. Unlike the AOL, MSN and Yahoo!IM programs, Google Talk can't send photos and videos or videoconference. It can't connect to landlines or encrypt messages like AOL Callways and Skype. And each Google Talk competitor has added its own little gems over time, such as customized backgrounds, calendaring and online gaming.

So if you can temporarily live without skins and emoticons, the only challenge in Google Talk is getting buddies to join you. The major services have been largely successful at walling in their users. On the other hand, Skype signed up 54 million users in two years, and Google Talk sets up easily enough.

You have to sign up for Gmail first, though, and that requires a cell phone number. Supposedly, that's a way to verify your identity if you forget your password. But by the way, do you mind if Google keeps your number around so you can get alerts on "topics that interest you" and future, unspecified "Google Mobile services"? Translation: "Our text ads are perfect for a tiny phone display, and we've got big plans for those 1 billion-plus cell phone users."

That number will double by 2009, by which time no one will even remember that e-mail, IM, cell phones, VoIP and landlines were once separate. Google Talk isn't for everyone, but it's all most folks need for now.

More from Entrepreneur

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.