So... I was cruising around the net this morning, as I am wont to do when I have more important things I should be working on.

I happened to stumble on this critique of this article from the Times in the UK.

I have to agree with i386 that the article is a "freaking crack pipe enduced P.O.S.", but i386 missed some of the more blatant factual errors.

Take, for instance, the third paragraph, which states:

if you have a VoIP handset (which start at around £10)

That's not true. Almost all PCs today have speakers. Most laptops, and even some desktops have built-in microphones. If you've got these, you don't need to spend a cent to start using any kind of VoIP (including Google Talk).

Even if you're lacking a built-in mic, there's no neccessity to buy a "VoIP handset". A simple desktop stand mic will suffice to get you started - and these start at around $5AUD at any electronics store (about £1.5). Even if you do want to go all out, what you need is not a "VoIP handset" but any standard headset with a mic and headphones - these start from about $20AUD (about £7).

Sign-ups to GMail have been restricted so far to a "by invitation only" basis, so they are the fashionable thing to have, but they remain quite uncommon.

Well, that's partially true. They have been invitation-only, but I'd hardly call them "restricted". In the early days, sure - it took me almost a week of begging from friends for me to get an invite! For the last 6 months or so though, I've had 50 invites spare and no-one to offer them to. If I did manage to give them away, I'd have another 50 invites 24 hours later.. that's a pretty generous "restriction". I could outfit the entirety of the company I work for in less than three days!

Google claims that this may be their unique selling point, as they are going to make their Google Talk product opensource, which means that other providers can utilise their software and network to allow their users to be able to keep in touch with more of their friends

Really? I doubt that. I've not seen any press from Google which would indicate that they want to make their Google Talk product "opensource". I highly doubt they ever would consider that.

What they have done is used an open standard, which allows other people to create clients that can connect to Google Talk's servers. Even more, Google have had, right from the launch, a list of third-party clients that work, and instructions on how to configure them. This contrasts with MSN, AOL, and Yahoo, who frequently change their protocols in an (always vain) attempt to stop third-party clients from connecting.

What Google have also said is this:

We hope to change that. We want to work with other willing service providers to enable their users to communicate directly with Google Talk users..

This still doesn't amount to open-sourcing their Google Talk product.

The factual errors aren't just in relation to Google Talk either. In comparing SipGate with Skype, the article says:

SipGate, a European based VoIP service, goes one better, giving you a landline number in either the UK or Germany that your non-VoIP friends and collegues can call you on.

Skype also has landline numbers available in the UK.

The best part of this article, as i386 recognised, really comes in the last paragraph:

However, it is likely to come at some cost to the consumer: their privacy. I can foresee Google using voice recognition technology to analyse their users' conversations and provide sponsored links that are relevant to the words and phrases just spoken. Thus Google Talk may be just another step towards world domination by Google.

There's really no response I can make to that; it's just idle sensationalist speculation. It might be interesting if the writer of the article knew anything about the subject matter, but as he's demonstrated he has no idea at all.. well.

I'm going to go away and do something serious now, and then get lunch. bye!