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Google to Expand Talk Service

From Bloomberg News

Google Inc. plans to expand its Google Talk Internet calling and instant-messaging features to more websites after failing to attract users from competitors including Microsoft Corp. and AOL.

Google will link Google Talk to its Orkut friend-finder website and may do the same with its online word processor and spreadsheet programs, said Mike Jazayeri, the product manager for Google Talk. Released a year ago Thursday, the service lets people send messages and make free phone calls over the Internet.

“Integrating it into our own other services is very valuable,” Jazayeri said from Mountain View, Calif., where Google is based. “That’s really where the growth is going to come from.”

With fewer than 3.5 million monthly users, Google Talk isn’t close to catching up to similar tools from Yahoo Inc., Microsoft and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, which each have at least 30 million users, according to market researcher ComScore Networks Inc.

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The gap highlights Google’s struggle to parlay the dominance of its Internet search engine into other markets such as shopping and finance.

“They haven’t created that absolutely compelling reason for people to abandon the buddy lists they have created on AOL, Yahoo or Microsoft,” said Allen Weiner, an analyst at market researcher Gartner Inc.

Google plans to build Google Talk, which is still in beta, or test mode, into Orkut “in the not too distant future,” Jazayeri said.

Shares of Google rose 30 cents to $373.73.

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