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Google Talk Revamped For Apple's iPhone

In order to accommodate the restrictions that Apple placed on iPhone apps to conserve system resources, this version of Google Talk shuts down if you launch another application.

In a move likely to make AT&T sweat, Google on Thursday introduced a new version of its Google Talk instant messaging application that runs on Apple's iPhone.

The new Google Talk is designed specifically to run in Apple's Safari browser on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In order to accommodate the restrictions that Apple placed on iPhone apps to conserve system resources, this version of Google Talk shuts down if you launch another application.

"[I]n order to receive instant messages with Google Talk on your iPhone, the application needs to be open in your Safari browser," explains Google engineer Adam Connors in a blog post. "When you navigate away to another browser window or application, your status will be changed to 'unavailable' and your Google Talk session will be restarted when you return."

The reason that AT&T grumble about Google Talk, not to mention other IM clients for the iPhone like Meebo's Web-based IM app, is that it could reduce text messaging revenue.

Under AT&T's current iPhone plans, text messaging isn't a major source of revenue. The phone company charges $20 per month for an unlimited data plan that includes 200 text messages.

But owners of Apple's new 3G phone -- available on July 11 -- will have to pay for text messages. Under AT&T's new data plan, text messaging is no longer included. Text messaging will cost $20 for an unlimited number of message ($30 for FamilyTalk plans of up to five lines), $15 (1,500 messages), or $5 (200 messages).

Because text messages will be billed separately from the $30 per month 3G data plan, iPhone users will have a more obvious incentive to forgo the expense of text messages for instant messages, which don't cost anything beyond the flat data fee.

The impact of IM isn't likely to be immediate because text messaging is easy to use and works across carriers, whereas not all mobile phone users have instant messaging accounts or use compatible IM clients. But sooner or later, iPhone users are likely to realize that paying $1310 per megabyte for text messages isn't such a good deal.

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