Is Google building a IM ? Speculation is that in addition to leveraging its existing assets and expertise in search technologies, IM would allow Google to complete a communication platform that includes Gmail (its Web mail system) and Orkut (its community networking portal).

The Google IM screenshot mentions the name of the Google IM application as "Google instant messenger jabber alpha 0.068". Reports also indicate that Google's IM platform and client would be based on the open source Jabber protocol.

GMail settings carry a link to download google talk (full size). Outside of speculation, there is a currently little known reality about Google's current IM capabilities. It actually already has an IM tool and it's publically avaialbale — it's not even a Google Beta or a Google Labs project. Google though its acquisition of Blogger last year also acquired a company called Picassa, which also offer an instant messaging service. The IM technology is called Hello and is currently focused on instant messaging between people to share pictures and now to post pictures to a blog. Hello is currently available only for Windows and uses a proprietary protocol.

See a full screen preview of the old screenshot of Google Instant Messenger

Update: Threadwatch points to an article in NYTimes - Where to Spend $4 Billion? Google Has Plenty of Projects in Mind.
Google executives say they plan to unveil on Wednesday a "communications tool" that is potentially a clear step beyond the company's search-related business focus.

While executives would not disclose what the new software tool might be, Google has long been expected to introduce an instant messaging service to compete with services offered by America Online, Yahoo and MSN from Microsoft.
So will Google acquire or develop from scratch ? Only time will tell. via | via