Google Talk and Skype To Interoperate -- Almost
On Monday morning, eBay and its Skype subsidiary took the first steps toward interoperability with Google Talk. For now, however, the agreement excludes voice communications.
Mark Hachman - PC Magazine
Aug. 28 - On Monday morning, eBay and its Skype subsidiary took the first steps toward interoperability with Google Talk. For now, however, the agreement excludes voice communications.
The two companies agreed to cooperate in making their presence and text chat functions interoperable between Google Talk and Skype, as part of a program to jointly enhance their "click-to-call" VOIP initiatives. Google will also become the exclusive text-based advertising provider for eBay outside the United States.
The agreement between Skype and Google is similar to that struck between Skype and Yahoo this March, which also involved an ads partnership. Executives said that the Yahoo agreement was restricted to the U.S., however, while the Google agreement is global.
According to Don Albert, the North American general manager for Skype, the integration of the two VOIP services is scheduled to go live at the end of 2007, giving the two companies plenty of time to work out details such as how each service will be promoted on the other's sites. For now, consumers will "presumably" have a choice, equally able to choose between Skype and Google Talk to contact a vendor via a web ad, Albert said. In that case, the VOIP option would replace a standard telephone number, allowing a consumer to call the company, for free, via a USB headset connected to his or her PC.
"Basically, we're combining assets," Albert said. "This builds the click-to-call business more quickly than we could do it on our own."
"First and foremost, both eBay and Skype, as well as Google, are excited about the potential of click-to-call advertising," Albert added. "Millions of small businesses are not doing any sort of advertising on the Web, but they're comfortable with buying ads in the yellow pages to drive telephone calls to their business."
The click-to-call capabilities would be implemented on both eBay Marketplace as well as Google-owned sites such as Froogle, in what Albert called a "symmetrical" relationship.
Google declined to discuss specifics. "We're combining the strengths of both companies to add value to our respective communities and the Internet as a whole," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "We expect testing to begin in early 2007."
Tying the online presence functions together will allow consumers to view a Skype user in their Google Talk application, which currently pops up when users open their Gmail email account, and vice versa. Details such as the look and feel of the user interface still have to be worked out, Albert said.
Skype users will also be able to download a Google toolbar with a Skype button installed, Albert said. However, the toolbar will be custom designed, and not the default Google Toolbar that Google makes available to its users on its own Web page.
"We're not ready to announce specifically how interoperability will be implemented," Albert said. "We have a bunch of work to do between now and the time it launches."