On Google, XMPP and Progress

Google’s Larry Page, quoted on The Verge:

I’ve personally been quite sad at the industry’s behavior around all these things. If you take something as simple as IM, we’ve had an open offer to interoperate forever. Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us. You can’t have people milking off of just one company.

Matt Landis, via @marcoarment:

But just days after Microsoft announces that www.outlook.com will integrate to Google’s IM/P solution via Google talk’s XMPP protocol, Google notes its that its new effort at a unified messaging solution (Hangouts which will replace existing Google Talk) will effectively cut off interoperability via XMPP.

The XMPP move is a crappy one, and the new Hangouts is already frustrating to use because of it.

While lots of Google’s services are “open” and available on their competition’s platforms, the move away from open web standards like XMPP is a move in the wrong direction.

I don’t have a problem with progress, but I do have a problem when it’s wrapped in hypocrisy.

(The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger calls it “deeply ironic.”)

While I was impressed with Larry Page’s talk on stage at Google I/O yesterday, the more I think about it, the more I realize that one of his major points — that technology companies should focus on improving the lives of their users, and not destroying each other — is at odds with the actions his company takes on a routine basis.

Yesterday, John Gruber wrote:

Google is a hyper-competitive company, and they repeatedly enter markets that already exist and crush competitors. Nothing wrong with that. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work, and Google’s successes are admirable. But there’s nothing stupid about seeing Google being pitted “versus” other companies. They want everything; their ambition is boundless.

While Gruber’s point makes perfect sense, it lives in a world where people say insane things about companies. Is Google evil? No. Do they send mixed messages to the world? Yes, but so does almost every other company.

Google’s really not all that different from anyone else, but they have painted a bigger target on their back than most.