Instant messaging users have been hoping for covergence among the various systems for quite some time, but companies have thus far been reluctant to provide it, since they're competing to build their user bases. But convergence came a step closer Monday, when IBM
On first glance, the agreement's biggest surprise was the presence of Time Warner's
Yahoo! has shown willingness to play ball in IM before; you might recall that not too long ago, it announced a hookup with Microsoft's
Then again, despite its might, maybe it's not such a surprise that AOL would hook its IM services up with Sametime. According to AOL's press announcement on the subject, the agreement exposes AIM to a total 75% of corporate IM users. AOL's AIM, ICQ, and Apple
And while AIM boasts 40 million users in the U.S. alone, IBM's Sametime instant messaging system has 20 million users in the coveted business demographic; IBM claims that 60% of the world's largest companies use its system. Microsoft may have a mere 15 million users for its MSN Messenger program, but it also has a messaging platform for business, Live Communications Server, which likely explains its reticence in hooking up with Sametime.
The corporate market has long been a holy grail for the IM services. Now, with all the big players adding VoIP, videoconferencing, and other whizbang features, it stands to reason that IMs will play an ever-larger role in everyday communication -- especially in the workplace. If the Sametime agreement is any indication, too much isolationism is no way for any IM service to win.
For related Foolish content, see the following takes:
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- Does IM's popularity mark the end of email?
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.