By Eileen Yu, ZDNet Asia
Search engines and instant messaging have become household names among computer users.
These technologies have transformed the way we work, the way we communicate with one another, and the way we use information to enrich our lives. They have clocked such enormous growth over the last couple of years that it was necessary to create a category that encapsulates the key players that continue to develop the Internet platform.
Companies labeled under the Internet services group also include makers of Web browsers, Web-based e-mail service providers, online portals and auction sites.
Once perceived to be nothing more than a teenage fad, instant messaging (IM) has matured into an essential communication tool among enterprises.
A recent IDC study estimated that about 1 billion instant messages are exchanged each day between 28 million enterprise users. In fact, the market for business IM was worth US$315 million last year and is expected to grow to US$736 million in 2009.
Microsoft and Yahoo are deserving placeholders in this Top Tech 50 category: Microsoft for its development work in Hotmail and search; and Yahoo for its continual innovation in IM and its new bid for the search market.
While Microsoft and Yahoo are the only two companies in this market segment that made it to the ZDNet Asia Top Tech Index this year, there are other noteworthy companies, too.
Google deserves the Special Mention award in ZDNet Asia's Top Tech Index for undeniably having contributed to the transformation of the online medium. The search engine handles close to half of Web searches worldwide today, and is setting itself up to be an application delivery system for any type of device. It introduced its own IM tool, hired key executives who can help develop the company's technology directions, and expanded its international reach.
Another Internet pioneer that deserves the Special Mention award is auction site eBay which is expanding its role into new areas, such as offering a Web site for software developers. Founded in September 1995, the online marketplace boasts a buyer-seller community of more than 100 million members worldwide, and has local sites in various Asian markets including Singapore, India, Malaysia and Taiwan.
With the rumor mills buzzing around Yahoo's interest in buying out American Online, eBay's recent acquisition of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) specialist Skype, and the ongoing battle between search rivals Google and Microsoft, the (Internet) show has only just begun.