Ploum, in a piece titled “How to Kill a Decentralised Network (Such as the Fediverse)”:
In 2013, Google realised that most XMPP interactions were between
Google Talk users anyway. They didn’t care about respecting a
protocol they were not 100% in control. So they pulled the plug
and announced they would not be federated anymore. And started a
long quest to create a messenger, starting with Hangout (which was
followed by Allo, Duo. I lost count after that). [...]
While XMPP still exist and is a very active community, it never
recovered from this blow. Too high expectation with Google
adoption led to a huge disappointment and a silent fall into
oblivion. XMPP became niche. So niche that when group chats became
all the rage (Slack, Discord), the free software community
reinvented it (Matrix) to compete while group chats were already
possible with XMPP. (Disclaimer: I’ve never studied the Matrix
protocol so I have no idea how it technically compares with XMPP.
I simply believe that it solves the same problem and compete in
the same space as XMPP).
Would XMPP be different today if Google never joined it or was
never considered as part of it? Nobody could say. But I’m
convinced that it would have grown slower and, maybe, healthier.
That it would be bigger and more important than it is today. That
it would be the default decentralised communication platform. One
thing is sure: if Google had not joined, XMPP would not be worse
than it is today.
This is in the context of the situation with Mastodon and Facebook’s upcoming “Threads” project, and the subset of Mastodon instance admins who are pledging preemptively to block it. Basically it’s an argument that Google applied Microsoft’s old Embrace, Extend, Extinguish strategy to kill XMPP, and that thus XMPP is a better example than email when debating whether large scale federated protocols should allow large corporate instances to join.
I don’t buy it. XMPP is an instant messaging protocol. Instant messaging is effectively dead. AIM is gone and I learned only while writing this post that ICQ is apparently still around. All modern messaging protocols have some form of message persistence; instant messaging did not. With instant messaging you could only send a message to someone while they were logged in with the client app open and running. You can’t prove a negative, but I see no scenario where XMPP would have any relevance today, regardless of Google’s decisions a decade ago.
★ Monday, 26 June 2023