hurrah! Google Talk gets useful

i noticed yesterday the new ‘chat’ link in the Gmail navigation, but didn’t pay too much attention as it was obviously a Google Talk thing and I don’t use Google Talk. (Of course, I diligently downloaded it, with everyone else, when it was first released, but I can remember the 2 or 3 times that I’ve used it – and I’m a frequent flyer when it comes to IM). I use Messenger mostly, because most of my friends use Messenger. I used Trillian for a while there so that I could pay attention to the few remaining ICQ friends that I have, but ended up ditching it because it didn’t support the cool emoticons that Messenger was supporting. (I know – how lame… I wish I could tell you it was something more academic, but no… that’s it).

But then, browsing through Tech.Memeorandum (which I’m liking more and more – you might have noticed it in my links from yesterday… thumbs up), I came across this post on the Google Blog that made me suddenly get excited about it.

within a few weeks, when you log into Gmail you’ll find a list of your most important contacts on the left-hand side of the window, and you can chat right away with those who are online. You can also save, search for, and view your chat histories just like your Gmail messages.

Perhaps this wouldn’t usually get me all excited, but given that my work has been in a relative state of flux lately, and as a result I’m not really using my work email much, and using my Gmail more than ever, these integrated features sound great. In fact, they sound good enough for me to tell my friends that I’m using Google Talk now and they should all come on board. (Either that, or start asking Google to let me talk to my Messenger friends using Google Talk, which would also be lovely).

Sometimes, design and usability have nothing to do with it (and, lets face it, Google Talk has the hallmark sparse approach of Google Design) – sometimes its all about the featureset and the critical mass. For me, Google Talk / Gmail now have a compelling enough featureset for me to be ready to switch from Messenger. Now the only thing that’s lacking is for all my contacts to be accessible via my IM platform du jour.

It makes me think, again, about why ma.gnolia didn’t do it for me (when its obviously done it for many others ). Its the double failure – there’s nothing so compelling about ma.gnolia that makes me want to switch from Delicious (apologies for inconsistent use of punctuation… i’m over it). And, its also a bit quiet in there… I have no friends (well, actually, I have one now due to being so pathetic in a previous post! (thanks Kristen!), and there’s just not much noise going on. This, actually, could be a feature set thing too as its quite difficult to contact your contacts and shoot the breeze, as you would do in Flickr.

So there. Google Talk. I’m in.

Send me your gmail address .. I need to add some names to my contact list ;)