Google's business model, VoIP and Instant Messaging

I just got across the news that the search engine company Google is launching Google Talk which unites net telephony (VoIP) with instant messaging (IM) and builds on their Gmail e-mail service.

Now that is an interesting move and it created a lot of talk. What is Google actually trying to achieve with this? What are they up to?

Some argue that Google Talk is just another geeky Google gimmick and they add that Google has not shown business performance in projects not directly related to its core search engine competency. Others talk of an ecosystem of products and technologies in which Google Talk is another ingenious building block.

I would opt for the second. And if you look closely it seems like Google is still carefully building their econsystem: for example, something few people know is that Google has opened up their Gmail accounts. I just read about it on Russell Beattie's blog. Until recently you had to get invited, but now you can get an account if you have a US mobile phone number. You supply your number and you will be invited via a text message. It looks like Google is going to use this for upcoming mobile services like secure password recovery and SMS alerts.

Anyways, what I most found interesting about Google's launch of Google Talk is that to me it looks like a demonstration of a paradigm shift in strategic thinking. In the old paradigm of industry analysis Google's move looks like overdiversification. In the new paradigm of business model design we can understand that the move is reinforcing the existing elements of their strategy. Something like building a cluster of programs that effectively turns the net into an operating system - just like Windows does for personal computers.

If I have the time (which is probably not the case) I will try to analyze Google with both, the industry as the unit of strategic analysis and the business model as the unit of strategic analysis. I would be curious to see what comes out of it.

If you are interested in the outcome or if you have any thoughts on this don't hesitate to post a comment!