Google announced on its official blog that it was expanding its instant-messaging system from Gmail to iGoogle, which allows users to create customizable start pages.
iGoogle is Google's competitor to services, such as Yahoo's My Yahoo, that also allow start-page personalization.
Users will be able to chat with those who don't have a Gmail address, provided they invite the non-Gmailer as a chat buddy, and the non-Gmailer signs up for iGoogle. With more people on its subscriber rolls, of course, Google broaden the number of eyes for its targeted advertising.
As with many newly introduced Google features, the company is still working out the latest kinks to this newest addition.
"We ask for your patience as we work through them," Rhett Robinson, a Google Talk Engineer, wrote on a company blog site. "Here at Google, it's common practice for us to involve our users as early possible so we can make sure we get it right."
Google's instant messaging system was the recent target of phishers looking to trick users into giving up information. TinyURL eventually blacklisted the phishing Web site, called ViddyHo, that was asking users to input their Gmail usernames and passwords.
Expanding Google's chat capability into new realms allows the company to offer a more powerful messaging and collaboration tool, which is a useful feature for the enterprise. Most recently, Gmail extended its communications-tool reach by allowing users to send text messages from their accounts to a contact's mobile device.
IT companies such as Dell have also been experimenting - with varying degrees of success - with using Twitter as an enterprise-based messaging-and-collaboration tool.