Google Talk: No one’s listening

One gets the feeling that if AskJeeves launched an IM client they’d do better than Google. But why is Google doing so poorly and how poorly are they doing? From TechCrunch:

The user numbers coming out on Google Talk are staggeringly terrible. Comscore usage numbers show that nearly a year after launch Google is a distant, distant 4th after MSN, Yahoo and AIM. They hold a pitiful 1% of total instant messaging market share, with 3.4 million unique users in May 2006. See the Comscore chart below for more details (I wonder where Skype IM falls in those stats). Note that Comscore does not include Google Talk usage within Gmail itself (where it is embedded), but even factoring that in, the numbers are just awful.

Even factoring in the chatting that goes on within Gmail and which were not included in these numbers, GoogleTalk is a failure by most measures. However Google has been mum on the strategy of their IM client so one doesn’t know what priority, if any, Google placed on the success of their downloadable client.

Marketing and prioritization aside, why haven’t more people switched to Google? The most likely reason is the combination of inertia, switching costs and interoperability. Those that are comfortable with AIM see no reason to deal with the hassle of moving IM systems (despite AIM being bloated and ad heavy); Yahoo and MSN are now interoperable which has opened up new contacts for people on those systems. Since no one even talks about ICQ anymore we’ll just skip them. This leaves GoogleTalk.

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