Yahoo IM and MSN Instant Messenger are perhaps not quite, independently, as ubiquitous as AOL’s AIM chat program. However, together they command an impressive 44% of the Internet chat market.
And so, together they are. Microsoft and Yahoo have struck a deal to allow Yahoo IM and MSN Instant Messenger to intercommunicate, meaning that Yahoo IM users will not need a secondary program such as Trillian or Jabber to talk with their MSN Instant Messenger buddies, and vice versa.
This is great for the average Internet chat user, but what about Microsoft and Yahoo? Why would these rivals, and competitors in the Internet chat space, team up like this? One word: AOL.
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According to research analyst Robert Mahowald, with IDC, “Up until now, AOL has been able to pick and choose its partners, command the royalties it wants. They’ve moved to develop this market at their own pace. This forces them to take a more aggressive stance.” Mahowald added that “I think what’s really pushing this is Microsoft’s ability to see that it’s long been playing cat and mouse with AIM and ICQ. Microsoft needs to stake its presence in a big way.”
For my money, if this proves successful, I expect Microsoft to move to acquire the Yahoo IM system, or at least a substantial stake in it.
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