I'm not entirely sure whether this part of stack exchange is the most adequate for my question, but it would seem to me that people sharing this kind of concern would converge either here, or possibly on a more unix-specific sub site. Either way, here goes.
Feel free to skip to The Question, below. This should, however, help those interested understand where I'm coming from, and where I expect to get, messaging-wise.
My online talking place-to-go has been IRC for the last fifteen years. I think it's a great protocol, and clients out there are very good. I still use, and will always continue to use IRC for most of my chat needs. But then, there is private instant messaging. While IRC can solve this with queries and DCC chats, the protocol just isn't meant to work too well on intermittent connections, such as a mobile device, where you can often walk around places with low signal.
I used MSN for a while, but didn't like it. The concept was awesome, but I think Microsoft didn't get the implementation quite right. When they started adding all that eye candy, and my buddies started flooding me with custom icons and buzzing my screen to it's knees, I shut my account and told folks that missed me to just email or call me. Much whining happened, I got called many weird things for not using MSN, but folks eventually got over it.
Next, Google Talk came along, and seemed to be a lot better than MSN ever was. The protocol was open, so I could use whatever client I felt a fancy for. With the advent of smart phones, I just got myself a gtalk client on the phone, and have had a really decent integrated mostly-universal IM solution.
Over the last few months, all Google services have been feeling flaky. IMs will often arrive anywhere between twenty minutes and one hour after being sent, clients will randomly disconnect, client priorities seem to work sometimes, and sometimes just a random device of those connected will get an IM. I think the time has come to look for greener grass.
It's rather hard to put what I'm looking for into precise words. I guess I just want something that is kind of like MSN/Gtalk, but that doesn't let me down when I need it. IRC is pretty much perfect, but the protocol just isn't designed to work well on mobile devices.
Really, at this point I'm considering sticking to IRC for desktop messaging, and SMS/email on the phone, but I hope that in this day and age there is something better out there.