Google Talk + AIM
Along with the rest of the Internet, I was excited to read of Google's purchase of 5% of AOL Time Warner and wonder about what implications it would have for Google Talk. In case you missed it, it was one line in the press release that got me excited:

Enabling Google Talk and AIM instant messaging users to communicate with each other, provided certain conditions are met;

Alas, my initial optimism turned to concern about what exactly was meant by the phrase "certain conditions." Considering that Google claims to be in favor of "service choice" - being able to contact your friends regardless of which IM server they are connected to - I was worried about how the aforementioned conditions might affect Google Talk's federation with the regular Jabber network, among others.

An article in eWeek provided more details, but did not assuage my fears.

Integrating Google Talk and AIM will be done in a roundabout way, mostly to keep AOL and Google from exposing the valuable profile information customers must first provide to sign up.

In essence, the two IM networks will not be connected. Rather, Google's Google Talk users must first sign up for an AIM account and screen name. They can then carry on a conversation with an AIM user by using their Google IM desktop dashboard.

While this might be fine for Google Talk users who already have AIM accounts, those that do not are essentially left out in the cold. The article also suggests that only users of the Windows-only Google Talk client with be able to talk to AIM users. So much for Google's claimed espousement of "client choice."

If eWeek is correct, and Google Talk's AIM integration is programmed in such a way that IM clients other than Google Talk are unable to utilize it, the promise of Google Talk, as the uniter of disparate instant messaging networks who would make it easy to contact everyone everywhere, has failed.