Was listening to the latest G’Day World Podcast, interesting stuff as always guys, keep it up. Noted the discussion about Trillian, ICQ, and MSN Messenger.
Until about a year ago, it seemed to me like most Australians on the IM circuit were on ICQ. I’ve been on ICQ so long I have a 7 digit UIN (though I forgot about it for a while, and subsequently have an 8 digit one I use more often, in the 26-million range, if that dates it).
But it became apparent that (like Hotmail) MSN Messenger was bigger than I thought. Even among people I knew, there were a number of people who I didn’t IM with, but who used MSN. Ditto Yahoo Messenger (which has some popularity with corporate users, since it’s long been usable through firewalls using HTTP). I understand AOL Instant Messenger is huge in the States, due to the vast numbers of people who use AOL as an ISP, but virtually nobody in Australia uses it.
When I realised I knew people who were on MSN but not on ICQ, I moved over to Trillian, which of course works with all of these. Although Trillian isn’t perfect with every protocol (some older versions didn’t do well with ICQ’s file transfer, for instance) even the free version is pretty damn good, and on my aging 2000-era PC, I’d rather not be filling my meagre 256Mb RAM by running lots of clients.
But even when I do get my brand spanking new super-duper fast-as-you-like mega-PC (before too long), I won’t want the hassles with clicking around on multiple windows just to talk to everybody. That’s just silly.
While I use MSN Messenger there are two clients that could potentially take over from this.
The first is Skype. While known for it’s phone call ability from user-user and user-traditional telephony it also features a very good IM client. As Skype grows I’m sure this will grow in popularity too.
The second is Google. Not many people realise that Google offers a sensational IM client as part of their Picasa purchase they inherited Hello, a photo sharing application that is also an instant messenger. If Google were to promote this I’m sure it would become very popular very quickly.
I’ll stick with my ICQ. I love my ICQ. ICQ has been very good to me. (Though MSN is handy.) I couldn’t seem to get Trillian or Skype to work.
And I’ve still got my original 7-digit ICQ number. heh.
There’s also Jabber.
In the IM game, it doesn’t just depend on features of course, any new player has to reach a critical mass of users before it gets generally adopted. Skype offers something in this area way above the others, so I’d expect it to take off at some stage.
I’d still like to see a unified IM client though… and Trillian’s the closest there is to one right now.
(Hey Ren, a mate of mine has a *four* digit ICQ number 😛 )
Four?! Good lord… I knew a guy who had five, and I thought that was pretty special, specially since the number was all ones and zeros.. 🙂
Jabber is certainly the way to go. MultiIM clients ultimately aren’t going to help with this whole IM fragmentation that we’re seeing. Proprietary protocols change and Trillian just has to put out more updates to keep up. Jabber is an Internet Standard and the only complete/widely used IM protocol to become a standard. This means that unexpected changes won’t happen in the protocol. If anything the only changes to the protocol will be to add new features without breaking compatibility with older software. Since the protocol (known know as XMPP – extensible messaging and presence protocol) is based on XML, there is the scope for adding features, where one day there might just be that killer feature.
Interesting when you mention criticial mass though, since Jabber has more users than ICQ now. Though most ICQ are really just die hard people hanging on. I don’t think ICQ gets too many new users these days. At the same time, most mainstream Jabber users are in non-english speaking parts of Europe. Outside Europe most users are geeks, although Pandion does present to be a very nice looking Jabber client for non-geeks.
Other than that, either Trillian Pro or Miranda along with jabber makes a good option (i.e if you get an account with jabber.org.au; for the aussies here). Though personally my favourite client is Psi which is jabber only (you can use transports in jabber to connect to icq/aim/yahoo/msn as well, though features like file transfer are presently lacking).
I use both win/mac machines, and although I found Trillian to be superb on Win, Adium has got to be the topper as far as IM progs go. It supports all the major protocols one would expect, but also has some added ones for those of us who are the crazies. =) The way it handles multiple IM’s, file transfer’s, etc is beautiful. If you haven’t checked it out, you definitely should.