Part 2: Attack of the instant messengers

Part 2: Attack of the instant messengers

Summary: In the future, possessing the IM of choice could play a deciding factor in determining the victor of the "feature war", already underway.

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TOPICS: Google
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messengerwar_1.jpgThe battle between Google Talk and AOL/MSN/Yahoo! Messengers is currently quite lopsided.  Since instant messaging is quickly becoming the preferred method of communication between Internet users, the importance of it is undoubted.  In the future, possessing the IM of choice could play a deciding factor in determining the victor of the "feature war", already underway.  In order for these companies to either gain or retain market share, they are all likely to dedicate more resources towards IM and presence services as time progresses.

Google Talk
This service is the least used of all four, and for good reason.  Google's product, Google Talk, is very plain and limited in features.  Partially because of a clean and simple design, Google got the attention of many users when they first launched their search engine.  But now it looks like they are going to follow in its predecessors' footsteps and they have a LOT of work to do.  Removing everything except the absolutely essential features will not attract new users as effectively as Google's search engine did in the past -- there is no PageRank for IM.

Since Google generates the majority of its income from advertisements, it would not be a surprise if they introduced relevant ads to live chat sessions.  As Google already knows, ads are generally welcome as long as they contribute (rather than take away) from the content experience.  Users who get extremely annoyed by advertisements should be able to upgrade to a paid version of the software, similar to what Google has done with Google Earth -- unless the market dictates that IM is a freebie.

AIM
AOL has the greatest market share between all four instant messengers.  AIM has all the features other IM clients provide and a few that they don't such as file sharing and plug-ins.  AOL is continuing to invest in IM with new a new version, code-named Triton.  In addition, AOL is in negotiations with Microsoft and Google, who are vying for a piece of AOL to bring hundreds of millions of revenue to their ad-networks.  Whoever gets that piece of AOL could have the opportunity to combine with AIM.  So imagine this -- Microsoft gets the deal (and it needs the deal to kickstart its new adCenter and block Google) and combines AOL with MSN Messenger, which is going to be integrated with Yahoo IM.  Where does that leave Gtalk?

MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger
MSN Messenger is a fairly mature piece of software and has about a 25 percent market share, about half as many unique users as AOL.  Yahoo! Messenger is slightly less popular than MSN Messenger, but the two share many of the same features and will be interoperable next year.  Beginning in the second quarter of 2006, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger users will be able to IM each other, see the presence of their contacts, make PC-to-PC calls, share emoticons and add friends from either service.  Unlike MSN, however, there are no advertisements in Yahoo Messenger by default.

Comparison Chart 
Here is a chart which shows how each of these services compare.

 Google TalkYahoo! MessengerMSN MessengerAIM

Text Chat

yes

yes

yes

yes

Voice Chat

yes

yes

yes

yes

Video Chat

no

yes

yes

yes

SMS

no

yes

yes

yes

File Transfer

no

yes

yes

yes

File Sharing

no

no

no

yes

Mail Notification

yes

yes

yes

yes

Contact Groups

no

yes

yes

yes

Display Images

no

yes

yes

yes

User Profiles

no

yes

yes

yes

Message History

yes(short)

yes

yes

manual save

Search Integration

no

yes

yes

no

Advertisements

no

no

yes

yes

Plug-ins

no

no

no

yes

Topic: Google

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9 comments
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  • AIM? Please.

    I've hated that buggy hunk of junk since the start, the sounds alone were enough to drive one partially mad, and the counterintuitive Options menus were boggling, seemed everything that should be in one location was in one entirely different, hidden under a pile of junk settings. AIM is kind of like a Drug, all these teens use it(C'mon, we know where that massive lead comes from.), not that they like it, but all their friends use it, so it's something like "Hey! My friends are jumping off that bridge! I can't be left out.", not to mention AOL's hand in it.

    I think one of the other larger reasons is it's far more functional with Dial-up, and ever since Yahoo With Talk or whatever launched, I've uninstalled Yahoo, the damn thing crashed my system, wouldn't work, bugged to hell really, installed quite a bit without my permission, Yahoo really screwed that up, and I won't be returning to them.

    What's this MSN not having Plugins nonsense then? Messenger Plus? Hello? Do you mean ones MADE by the company? Or?
    Revrant
    • AIM, please.

      Okay, so it's not very pretty, and it's probably not the most intuitive. But I like it. It's rather a bare-bones program if you don't use any of the bloated, buggy features and remove the ads. I'm still using 5.5. With the use of some of the said ad-removal programs and such, it ends up with a very no-nonsense interface. That's what I like. MSN is rather irritating to me. Forced upgrades, not very customizable, the IM windows and buddy list are quite large and can't be resized comfortably. Yahoo is slick, but it's hell on your system. Very buggy, bloated software. It has a few neat features, but not much of a userbase. Same goes for MSN. But I've gotten a Mac a few months ago and have fallen in love with iChat and Adium; especially the latter. It is simply the best IM client I've ever seen. I wish it was ported to Windows.
      anythingbutmine0
    • Plugins nonsense

      http://www.analogstereo.com/peugeot_107_owners_manual.htm
      us_forums@...
  • Gaim

    use gaim for access to all IMs and you dont have to use their crappy software
    wizardb@...
  • Dont forget Skype for IM

    Skype offer an important IM feature of end-2-end encryption
    starmagi
  • What about ICQ?

    I know it's seen it's better days and can be quite the resource hog, but I still refuse to give up my little flower. Because most of my contacts are on that IM. Sure, I've since gotten quite a few on MSN and one or two in AIM, but ICQ is still my primary IM, simply for it's real-time chat window feature. I use it for hours on end.

    And there's still a good portion of people who use it. That's gotta count for something, even if it -is- still in beta.

    Or is the reason ICQ was not mentioned is because it -IS- still in beta? I mean, c'mon, ICQ was the very first IM I picked up. Show some love to the little flower, it deserves it.
    RayeKinezono
    • RE: What about ICQ? by RayeKinezono

      GOOD questions!

      And ALSO: What about Pal Talk???

      This blog has a LOT to be desired... I wonder if it's author even KNOWS about ICQ or Pal Talk :|
      Betelgeuse58
      • RE: What about ICQ?

        Honestly I haven't heard of PalTalk... it seems like more of a tool like trillian than its own IM netowork... or am I wrong?

        As for ICQ, I didn't include it because I am trying to compare companies that are a part of the "Portal Wars", not a comprehensive review of all IM clients.

        If you want me to write an article comparing all IM's let me know, but that wasn't the intention of this article.
        Garett
  • Yahoo!

    DOES have File Sharing, Advertisements and plug-ins.

    I wonder how many OTHER MISTAKES are in this UNscientific 'Poll'?????????
    Betelgeuse58