I remember signing up for a Jabber account several years back. Since there were a lot of Jabber servers to choose from, and really no “canonical” choice, I ended up trying out a few different ones, until I finally settled on the jabber.org server. Of course, since hardly any one I knew was using Jabber at that time, that account was rarely used.
I subsequently tried to convince my friends to start using Jabber, even issuing a [[http://floatingsun.net/2005/07/28/call-for-jabber/|call for Jabber]] on my blog. Suffice to say that in all I added perhaps three friends to my Jabber buddy list. So much for technological merit driving adoption!
Somewhat naively, in that post I said:
//I should point out that Jabber is meant for (and only for) instant messaging. This means that there is protocol bloat for supporting webcams or voice chats. Use video conferencing or VoIP if you want those. Lets keep IM simple.//
Oh, how wrong I was. There are now official [[http://xmpp.org|XMPP]] extensions for [[http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0167.html|audio]], [[http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0180.html|video]] and [[http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0096.html|file transfer]]! Nevertheless, the basic premise of Jabber remains the same: open, free standard, distributed implementation and rich functonality.
However, it wasn’t really until Google embraced XMPP for Google Talk that Jabber really took off. Even now most end users are not familiar with the technological underpinnings of Google Talk. When Google Talk launched, it was a closed network. That is, though it used Jabber as the communication protocol, non Google Talk Jabber users could not communicate with Google Talk users. After some initial resistance, Google finally gave in, making Google Talk an open Jabber network.
It is kind of unfortunate that one of the main “features” of Jabber — a distributed implementation much like that of email — has essentially been nullified by Google Talk, since the vast majority of Jabber users //are// Google Talk users. Of course, it has been a boon to Jabber as well, since it piqued interest in Jabber from all kinds of commercial interests, leading to the significant increase in interest in the XMPP protocol stack. The extensions I mentioned earlier are just a small sampling of the [[http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/|total extensions available]].
It is interesting, as well as a little disappointing, that good ideas often get ignored not due to lack of technical merit, and some how endorsement by a powerful and recognized brand suddenly lends credibility to them.