Google is branching out beyond search this week with news of a multi-faceted instant messaging client and the upgraded Desktop 2 with Sidebar.
Google’s IM, which the Wall Street Journal reports will be called Google Talk, will go head to head with AOL, Yahoo and Skype among others. This will include both text and audio chat and conferencing.
While these will bring great value to the individual user – I also see marketable value to the web professional (though it may entail having some Windows programming skills or a friend with those same capabilities) through its API and Plug-In development community.
Perhaps most interesting of the two (although I am sure we will all be testing Google Talk!) to explore is the new Desktop 2, which includes Sidebar, an interactive browser add-in that can collect email, RSS feeds, search and more. A vibrant sphere of plug-ins will erupt in short order ripe for the picking by those web pros who can leverage them rather than spending time building a plug-in. However, for those ready to write some code, this customization level could lead to extending your relationships with your clients (upselling is always on my mind). One could imagine providing plug-ins to a client that:
- Extends their web site to the desktop, perhaps tracking new content on the site or offering to track news/instances of their company name on the web
- Is configured to check their email from the domain you manage for them
- Queries the web application you have developed for them for management reports
- Tracks web statistics throughout the day on their site
- The list goes on…
Google’s forays into new realms and going up against entrenched masters of the web will for sure drive innovation across the board – benefiting us all. It is also certain that its technology will spillover to web professionals providing saleable new tools or at the very least inspiration for unique usage.