As you know, I have always been a believer in open standards (see my post from January 2006). Being a market leader, it is quite easy for Facebook to create their own standard similar to how every other instant messaging network was started. And to that end, Facebook started down that path. But just today, it announced that it was extending its chat and opening up its service by offering XMPP/Jabber support. Assuming there are no restrictions, this is a huge win for openness. Maybe one day Skype and MySpace and others will adopt the same strategy and move us to a world where we can IM anyone from any network and have one IM identity rather be forced to live in a world that was similar to the dark ages of email where Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL users could only communicate with users on the same network. Once Facebook starts with chat, maybe when and if it ever offers VOIP, it would leverage the open SIP standard as well. Rest assured that the development team at portfolio company Gizmo5 is digging into the details of the Facebook annoucement and in short order can offer seamless connectivity to Facebook chat from your mobile phone. From the day Gizmo5 was started, it was built to live in a world of open standards leveraging the SIP protocol for VOIP and Jabber/XMPP for IM and Presence. As you might imagine, the smaller networks who needed users were the ones to adopt open standards first. Slowly but surely, larger and larger networks have adopted these standard starting with Google Chat in 2006 and now Facebook with its dominant market share in social networking. It seems as if the floodgates are opening and this is quite exciting. As I mentioned in my post from 2006:
Whatever happens it will be interesting to see if true open standards will triumph over closed and proprietary and how long that will take. At the end of the day consumers don’t care about protocols, they just want it all to work seamlessly and easily, and they do not want to be on their own island for communications. What I want is one identity or phone number that works on any IM network, VOIP network, or even integrates with my PSTN and cell phone identity?