Apple’s iChat mistake

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I blogged recently about my switch to MobileMe. In the post, I forgot to mention my experience with iChat. Previously, I had been using a simple Google Talk account with iChat. Several weeks after my initial setup, I decided to ditch my Google Talk account and switch to an AIM account through Mobile Me. A few thoughts:

Apple has never got web services quite right. eWorld was a disaster, .Mac suffered from slow sales and now MobileMe – and in particular – iChat has a few problems that are keeping it from widespread adoption.

Almost everyone I know has an account with Windows Live or Yahoo!. Right now, iChat only supports MobileMe, AOL, Google Talk and Jabber accounts. By limiting iChat to these services, Apple is blocking any rise in market share.

Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest barrier for Apple, is the lack of a native Windows compatible version of iChat. Despite the controversy, Apple seems quite happy to develop Windows versions of their popular applications. iTunes and Quicktime have been available for XP/Vista for many years now, and this year Apple also released their internet browser, Safari, for Windows, putting it in direct competition with IE, Firefox and later, Google’s Chrome browser.

Apple markets MobileMe as a service for both Mac and PC owners. To make iChat compatible with Windows and to support Windows Live accounts would drive up sales of MobileMe, and eventually, the Mac platform. Look at what iTunes did for them.

In conclusion, I believe Apple has neglected iChat. They’ve limited adoption greatly. It’s great software, but they should make it available to as many people as possible.

What’s your opinion? Comment below. – r.

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