While Google itself is remaining mum on the topic, rumors are swirling around the Internet to the effect that the technology giant is planning to unify all of its disparate messaging services on a single platform that it will call Babble.
According to a widely quoted report in Geek.com (which itself cites “multiple sources”), Google is experiencing difficulties relating to the inability of most of its numerous messaging services --including Google Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Drive and Google Talk for G+ -- to effectively interact. Geek.com cites Google Talk for Gmail and G+ as the only two Google communications services to offer any sort of real interactivity.
In addition to providing greater ease of use for its numerous messaging customers, Geek.com says combining all these services into Babble would allow Google to “overtake platforms like iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger in one sweeping gesture.” The article also states that Babble would be “not so much releasing a new product as it would be pulling together all of the existing products under a single branding” and that most Google chat services already use an open chat platform called XMPP, which would make it easier to unify them.
There is no official timetable for Babble’s release (which makes sense as Google has yet to confirm these rumors), but supposedly an introduction is likely at the Google IO developers’ conference in May. The unified platform is expected to encompass not only text-based communications but also the video chat functionality currently featured in Google + Hangouts, as well as photos and images.
Google Pursuing Improved Communications Nothing New
A look at the history of Google’s development of its communications applications shows that a desire to improve and expand their functionality is nothing new. For example, as far back as November 2008 Google started allowing Google Talk users to conduct voice and video chats -- all from within the browser.
“Video and voice features bring a whole new element to online communication,” stated a CMSWire article at the time. “We have long had IM to exchange quick messages, but being able to use video makes the experience much more human.” The article also presciently stated that the new, improved Google Talk would not prove to be a “Skype killer.”
More than five years later, things have not really changed that much in the world of online communications. People are still seeking an all-in-one tool that allows all types of communication to be performed in an integrated manner, and IT providers are still trying to catch up to public expectations. Google is not likely to kill Skype with Babble, either, but it will certainly stand a better chance of capturing a leading position in the still-evolving online communications market.