“Ideally, according to Gizmo’s Robertson, people should be able to send instant messages or make an Internet phone call as easily as sending an e-mail message. Someone who uses Microsoft’s free web-based Hotmail service, for instance, can transparently send messages to Yahoo Mail or Google’s Gmail. This inter-operability dates back to the early days of the Internet, when all e-mail servers were designed to use the same protocol, Saint-Andre says.
IM, however, started out as proprietary software and has stayed that way. Robertson wants to change that with initiatives like Gizmo. “The world I’m trying to create is one in which you have one screen name that works everywhere, very similar to e-mail,” he says. “That’s not the way IM works today. It’s a big mess.”