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Google Is Now Officially Evil

By Google supporting AIM in their Google Talk messenger, Google is now officially evil based on the fact that it is now considered a multi-protocol client. Multiprotocol clients do nothing to increase Open Standards. In fact, they do the exact opposite by hindering instant messaging as a whole:

  • Multiprotocol clients are a curse for interoperability.
  • Multiprotocol clients hinder adoption of open standards like XMPP and SIMPLE.
  • Multiprotocol clients even hinder their own adoption!
  • Multiprotocol clients explain why "the Firefox of instant messaging" does not yet exist.

Please read the following article for support of these arguments. All the more reason why I left Google Talk for a fully functional XMPP implementation on my own server.

With Open Discussion Day coming around the corner here in a few months, begin supporting Open Standards now by switching to Jabber/XMPP and ditching your proprietary protocols- including Google Talk. I highly recommend using for all your XMPP needs. Let your family and friends know early that you are making the switch, and encourage them to do the same, so when Open Discussion Day is here, it won't be so difficult to switch. Instant messaging should be open like email- allowing any server to talk to another without the vendor lockin.

So, Google, if you're reading this, I'd advise opening your implementation of Jabber, and ditching AIM support. You're only making the playing field worse, and you're tarnishing your reputation as a company that is not evil. As far as I'm concerned, Google Talk is just another proprietary IM service now, and you don't get my support.

{ 24 } Comments

  1. Lee | December 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    That would be a fine argument (no, really), except that Jabber has been even more evilly multiprotocol for quite a while now. Anything that encourages take-up of non-MS (ie, monopoly) formats is an improvement on the status quo, imho.

  2. Leelo | December 8, 2007 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    haha like u had an idea about google's plans..

    but yeah ditch google and with google SoC


  3. Aaron | December 8, 2007 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    @Leelo- What are you talking about? I'm merely analyzing a current status with Google Talk. What's this about me knowing Google's plans? What are you referring to?

  4. chris | December 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    "Multiprotocol clients explain why “the Firefox of instant messaging” does not yet exist."

    actually it does.

  5. Aaron | December 8, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    @chris- Heh. Instantbird is *hardly* the IM Client of Clients. All it is, is Pidgin with the gecko rendering engine. If it weren't multiprotocol, and based on libpurple, I'd say it had hope.

  6. Sander | December 8, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I'm sure this deal will bring many new users to Jabber. That would make Google's position stronger, so that they might convince AOL to actually use XMPP themselves.

  7. Aaron | December 8, 2007 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    @Sander- Possible, but highly unlikely. In fact, Google Talk isn't bringing people to Jabber at all. Rather, it's bringing them to Google Talk. Even now, when talking with very polished geeks, Google Talk and Jabber seem to be two completely different incompatible protocols. If Google advertised it as Google Jabber, then that would be a different story altogether.

  8. Sander | December 8, 2007 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Google still seems to be using as much as standard XMPP as possible, even the AIM integration works through XMPP with @aim JIDs. I don't have any problems when using my Talk account with other Jabber stuff, but I'm probably not a very polished geek. 🙂

    The naming issue still is bad indeed, but not strange if you consider there already exists a company named Jabber, Inc. Actually, a proposal from some months ago to rename Jabber to Talk (so you'd have Google Talk, LiveJournal Talk, Jabber Talk, etc.), which eliminates trademarking issues, sounded very good to me.

  9. Francesco | December 8, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I'm quite a long time FOSS user, and I work for a small company that works in the Open Source software field but I can hardly get the point of your post. I mean... I strongly think that freedom is all about being able to choose among different alternatives. Why do you criticize Google? Only because it added support to AIM?

    Google is a company, and as any other company its target is to do business. I can understand if you criticize that Google's XMPP extensions are not public (is this true? what about libjingle?), but labeling Google as "evil" only because it added support to AIM in its IM client... it's just absurd.

    Once again... users use what they find good for their needs: Linux it's gaining good reputation among common users because it's becoming more user-friendly and interoperable! Following your theory we should just kill the Wine project 'cause it make Win32 programs run in Linux... a multi-platform OS, moreless like a multi-protocol client! Damn it!

  10. Hub | December 8, 2007 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Look at YouTube... If google had been in favor of open protocols and format, then youtube wouldn't require a proprietary format and would inject money into projects like Gnash. They don't.

    Google isn't the best friend of Free Software and open formats. Google just use that to achieve their goal.


  11. Wolfger | December 8, 2007 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Tried to leave lengthy opposing viewpoint, but OpenID is borked and swallowed the post whole. Too far past my bedtime to retype all that, so I'll just sum up:
    FOSS == sharing == supporting multiple protocols
    Proprietary == greedy == "my way or the highway"

    If multi-protocol offerings are evil, then is evil. So is Gimp. So is Amarok. So is..... the list includes damn near every piece of software on my Kubuntu box.

  12. Will Farrington | December 8, 2007 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I think the analysis and concluding done by yourself and the cited article is short-sighted at best, and decisively ignorant at worst.

    The fact of the matter is Google has a requirement to service its users as best it can. Being that far many more users - most notably in the Western world - use AIM than do any XMPP service, adding support for such protocols in Gmail is a step in the right direction. The average user doesn't care if the AIM protocol is closed: they care about communicating with their friends and family.

    Furthermore, the assumption that supporting multiple-anything is bad is silly among all degrees. Is pidgin evil for supporting multiple protocols through libpurple? Is Gstreamer evil for having plugins that support closed, copyrighted formats? Is anything that could potentially interoperate with any non-open service or software evil? Of course not! None of those things make any company or service or software intrinsically evil.

    I suggest you take a step back and re-evaluate what matters here: the best way to service end users; not the best way to stir the political pot.

  13. Dread Knight | December 9, 2007 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    About the "Firefox of instant messenging", check this out:

    Anyway, don't fully agree with you because: you won't be able to convert/impose all your contacts to move to a new IM network. This is ONLY going to work if the new IM network is a viable alternative and it won't break the established network as in you still get to chat with all your contacts, just like before.

  14. Dread Knight | December 9, 2007 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Nice OS script (running Kubuntu 7.10 actually). Anyway, the guys who have posted before me are pretty much right, sorry to say but you don't get the overall picture. Don't get sad, continue to use Google 🙂 Cheers!

  15. Jerome Gotangco | December 9, 2007 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Google's dominance and our dependence with their online applications and services are good enough reasons why the GNU Affero GPL is very important - in fact could be more important than the GPL itself in the coming years.

  16. Frederik | December 9, 2007 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Hm, how do you deal with XMPP and SIMLPE without using a multiprotocoll client? Even the "Open Standards" compete in this field, with SIP adding IM capabilities and XMPP adding VoIP capabilities. So what's the deal? Using one application per protocol? I think Pidgin got it right when they switched from protocol icons to generic ones. People don't think in protocols, they think in people they want to chat with.

    Nevertheless, I think it's good when companies use XMPP/Jabber, even if they don't sell it as Jabber. We don't need the "Firefox of IM", we need the "E-Mail of IM": No matter where you have an account, no matter what software you use, you can just get in contact with anybody.

    In Germany, one of the biggest freemail providers added an IM service (in fact, three providers belonging to the same company). They don't sell it as "We now support XMPP", they sell it as "Hey, come and use our new sexy multi-protocoll IM client" (based on the fact that Jabber itself is multiprotocoll via transports). But I can use my Jabber account to contact these people. And I can tell people, "You already have an email address from them, just grab Pidgin (or their client if you want) and we can start chatting".

  17. sharms | December 9, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    @Sander: Your historical data arguement is not correct. Allowing OO to open word documents means that people interacting with you have less incentive to switch to other formats. AIM protocol is so popular because it *historically* has a large install base.

  18. Christer Edwards | December 9, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I don't think I agree with you on this one either. This makes pretty much any application that doesn't *strictly* support open protocols and formats evil as well.. which is just about the entire OS.

  19. Alex | December 9, 2007 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    "Google Is Now Officially Evil"

    Talk about an inflammatory title...

  20. Aaron | December 9, 2007 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I think a few of you are missing the point. The point isn't judging a company based on whether or not it supports proprietary foo. As Wolfger mentioned, that would put everything in that category.

    The point of the post, is Google supported an open standard, namely XMPP/Jabber. Even on their official Google Talk blog, they mention that they support open standards. Then, they throw in a proprietary protocol in the mix. This means that they do *not* support open standards, and are blatantly lying to the public. Is lying a good attribute or bad?

    To further the mess, by supporting a proprietary protocol in an open one, you have effectively closed your protocol. It doesn't matter if it's AIM, MSN, Yahoo! or ICQ, what does matter, is the hybrid mix of open with closed software.

    I guess my point of this post is, Google has shown that they are more interested in their wants and desires than the progress of Free Software. Any company that blatantly opposes Free Software is evil in my eye. I see Google hindering the progress of XMPP/Jabber, which is very unfortunate.

  21. daniels | December 9, 2007 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Why do you care? GMail is a closed-source app, with no semblance of openness. So, what does it matter that a closed-source app now speaks another proprietary protocol?

  22. Wolfger | December 9, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    "The point of the post, is Google supported an open standard ... Then, they throw in a proprietary protocol in the mix. This means that they do *not* support open standards"

    Aaron, I disagree with your interpretation of it. Supporting a proprietary protocol alongside an open protocol does not negate the fact that the open protocol is supported. Google is not switching their own IM client to a proprietary protocol, they are still using XMPP. They are simply trying to play nice with others. I honestly can't see why that should make anybody in the FOSS community upset.

    Let's look at this from another angle: Google is actively turning people into XMPP users! Yes, that's right. I seriously doubt anybody with an existing Gmail or GoogleTalk account is going to stop using that simply because AIM is now supported, but having AIM supported will be an added inducement to those who don't have a Gmail or GoogleTalk account to get one. So Joe is in the market for a new e-mail address, and he uses AIM. Gmail suddenly stands out as a particularly good choice, as it will allow him to keep in touch with his AIM buddies easier, even from work where IM clients are not allow but webmail access is. Joe creates a Gmail account and is now an XMPP user! If any of his friends also have Gmail, he will, unwittingly even, start chatting with an open protocol. Not that Joe cares whether the protocol is open or not...

    p.s. Anybody have any idea why OpenID is refusing to authenticate me?

  23. Francesco | December 10, 2007 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    @Aaron: your point has no sense since Google still supports XMPP in Google Talk. It would be different if Google Talk service had switched to AIM protocol, but since it still supports XMPP as the primary protocol I really can't see where the problem is... maybe it's just ideological/political...

  24. Jeff Schroeder | December 10, 2007 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Seriously dude... STFU!

    Google is doing a lot of good things like employing Sean Egan. Look at how much work on the Jabber specification he has done since moving to google. Jabber would not be what it is now without google's work and here you are critisizing? Take a hike.

    Oh, and if you want to reply to this rant, that really is my email and website.

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