Third Party Client Use of the Google Talk Service

One of the things that's been a lot of fun is seeing so many people use third party chat clients to log into the Google Talk Service. When we picked XMPP as our chat protocol we expected this to happen, but it's one thing to expect something and another thing entirely to get it.

And it's also fun when new clients get launched. For example, when Meebo started supporting Google Talk they immediately appeared on our internal stats page. We don't have to guess which clients are getting real users, we can just see it.

But it got me thinking. Wouldn't the people who worked on these products like to know how they're doing "out in the wild"? Download stats can only tell you so much, and they're hard to compare (or even get). It's exciting to be able to see your hard work pay off.

And how about people who want to use third party clients? Wouldn't they want to know which ones other people are using? Choosing a client that lots of other people are also using can give you confidence in your choice. And it never hurts to be aware of the alternatives.

So starting today we're going to publish the connection statistics for all the third party clients that people are using to connect to us. We plan on updating these numbers regularly at some point, but for now we're sharing the current numbers.

  1. Gaim - 48%
  2. iChat - 14%
  3. Trillian - 11%
  4. Adium - 8%
  5. Meebo - 6%
  6. Miranda - 6%
  7. Psi - 2%
  8. Festoon - 2%
  9. Gush - 1%
  10. fire - 1%

The first thing you'll notice is that the Google Talk and Gmail clients have been removed from this list. This is because this post is about "third party" clients. So the percentages listed are that client's percentage of the third party connections only.

And for you geeks out there (and those of you involved with the development of any of these clients), a quick note about the accuracy of these numbers. When possible, we use JEP 115 (Entity Capabilities) to positively identify clients. The problem with this approach is that at this point not all clients support it. For example, neither Miranda IM nor Trillian Pro support it.

When JEP 115 data isn't available we fall back to looking at the resource part of the JID. We look for a string like "Adium" or "Miranda" and if we see just that string, capitalized just that way, we count it as a use of that client. The problem with this method is that some third party clients allow the user to customize this string to say "Home" or "Work" or "My Big-Ass Computer". And if they do that we have no way to identify them. So they get lumped into a catch-all bucket titled "Other". Since JEP 115 is so easy to support, it'd be great if all the clients could take a quick moment to add support for it. Then we could make sure that all the votes are counted properly ;).

Rod Chavez
Software Engineer

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