[jdev] a vision

Justin Karneges justin-keyword-jabber.093179 at affinix.com
Wed Mar 11 15:05:50 CDT 2009

On Tuesday 10 March 2009 16:24:50 Peter Saint-Andre wrote:
> None of this would be exclusive. We'd still strongly encourage people to
> run their own XMPP services and join the network. But we'd also work
> hard to have worldwide coverage under the jabber.org banner.

This proposal reminds me of our discussion in Portland last year with 
Christopher Zorn, about the future of Psi.  I was all tied up in a knot 
because I felt that to truly target average users, Psi would have to be bound 
with a service, but that doing so would taint Psi's image and go against the 
point of Jabber.

You see, I have this idea that there's generic Jabber services and clients and 
then there's integrated services like Google Talk and SAPO, but only the 
generic offerings count as being part of the Jabber ideal.  Christopher 
basically said this view is too limiting.  Is Chesspark not part of the 
Jabber ideal then?  His point was that in the end it's all about offering 
great software and services, and holding on to this "generic client" idea is 
self-defeating.  Normal people don't want generic building blocks.

One compromise we discussed was to have Psi affiliate with jabber.org (rather 
than some Psi-specific service) to attempt to retain client/service 
separation while still making it easier for end-users to get set up.  I think 
Christopher also felt this was silly (again, why *not* capitalize on this 
opportunity to offer your own service?), but what can I say I'm a Jabber 
philosophy idiot.  In any case, we reasoned that users would find the 
dual-branding confusing.  First they visit the Psi website, then suddenly 
they are signing up for a jabber.org account...  WTF?  Seems shady.

Speaking of "first they visit the Psi website", Christopher argued that users 
will start at the client, mainly because it is the face of the service.  They 
will see the software running on a friend's computer, or they'll see a 
screenshot or such, and think "Hey, that's pretty cool, I want that."  The 
approach of going to jabber.org and having to pick a client is backwards.

If your vision is to take on Skype directly, it sounds like what is needed is 
a strong front-running client that has matching branding of the service 
itself.  To most users, the client and service would be synonymous with each 
other, as is the case with Skype, MSN, etc.

The big question of all is whether it is the job of jabber.org to compete with 
Skype.  Aren't there others in this space already trying to do that?  If 
jabber.org is truly competitive, and no longer a self-defeating reference 
service, is it still fair to use the "Jabber" name?  Peter, you may remember, 
one of the options we discussed was to actually get rid of jabber.org 
entirely. ;-)


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