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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

‘Fast Convergence’ – Oxymoron ? The case of Gmail-Talk

On one hand there is a dream of complete convergence. On the other hand there is a hope of simple and fast. I wonder if both can co-exist (especially the fast part). A few weeks ago, Google announced that their ‘Google Chat’ feature is now integrated with Gmail.

Hooray ! Really ? I wondered if one really wanted a browser integrated email system that could also chat. After all, chat is real time, email is semi-realtime at best. In addition, I got pretty tuned off seeing that Google automatically showed me online each time I checked email. Fortunately, it still provided the “standard without chat view” (see image below) at the bottom which I switched back to.

I then thought about speed – my main attraction towards google was simplicity & speed , not convergence. I use a dial-up very often and have often complained that is simply not dialup friendly. I also travel very often and use my phone as a bluetooth modem – forget broadband speeds there. I hate having to wait for the image slices to load up – can’t we just have a simple non fancy driving directions page ? (I use the old yahoo maps often for the same reason – not the new beta one, when travelling).

I also noticed that google has a new beta toolbar our – allows me to add many buttons, the toolbar search box automatically expands as I type, suggests words as I type (which I could fortunately turn off). But guess what – it was far more sluggish in operation (not search) than the old toolbar. So I rolled back to the old one. However, I guess this is only a matter of time till the new one becomes defacto.
But back to gmail-talk:
So today, I pulled up the very cool Fidder HTTP debugging tool and ran ‘gmail in standard mode’ and ‘gmail with chat mode’ to see the difference.

Here is the summary after clearing cache for each mode (more detailed shots later)

Click on the table for a larger version:

That is quite a magnitude of difference.

Here are the fiddler detail screen shots for those interested (click on the thumbnails for larger versions)Without Chat:

With Chat:

The same holds true for Google desktop 3.0 – its bigger, does more, integrates better and is sluggish compared to the leaner predecessors.

So again, is ‘Fast Convergence’ an Oxymoron ?



  1. I don't know about being and oxymoron, but it's rare or luck when it happens.

  2. Indeed. with all the excitement about now being possible to offer rich media services, it also helps at times to ask 'Why' and not 'How'

  3. Convergence is on its early stages, and still the new services are backward compatible, and they inherit the weaknest of the legacy(nowaday) systems.
    The whole approach in design, development and deployment is not convergency driven.

  4. an interesting comment. I sometimes wonder if speed is no longer a design factor for new applications. I guess many designers just leave it to 'the next version of your PC hardware will take care of it'.

  5. In line with your visions of convergence, I have stumbled upon very interesting news regarding an emerging new industry called the convergence digital industry (CDI). According to the prospectus, CDI will, in effect, become the operating system of business, unifying greater industry in the process. If the premise is true, this new industry will provide unprecedented opportunities as well as pose serious threats. For more info, you may message me at

  6. [...] ‘Fast Convergence’ – Oxymoron ? The case of Gmail-Talk - A look at the new Gmail integrated chat system and an under the hood look at the overhead this convergence brings us [...]