Email has gone from an unknown to an essential form of communication in less than two decades. It’s rapid adoption helped to revolutionize communication, and now technology is poised to take the next leap.
Christopher Saunders of InstantMessagingPlanet.Com, says that “instant messaging in the workplace is here, it’s now, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds and will touch virtually every business and numerous business processes in the coming years. The Radicati Group expects instant messaging to grow to 349 million users in the next five years.
Instant Messaging is software that opens a window on your computer screen for you and your friend to type messages into. Both of you view the window simultaneously. The software allows you to maintain a buddy list, so it can check and let you know when someone on your list has logged on to the internet. This real time communication can be done with images, sounds and other streaming media.
The largest providers of free instant messaging services are AOL, Miscrosoft and Yahoo. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, there is no interoperability between programs, so someone using Yahoo’s Messenger can not instant message with someone using AOL’s service. Currently AOL retains the largest share of the instant messaging market.
Recently a federal judge ruled that AOL can not deploy advanced services like video chat, while their instant messaging services dominate the market. In another case, AOL was awarded a $750 million settlement from Microsoft, but AOL was asked to work on compatibility issues with Microsoft. Industry watchers believe that AOL will be reluctant to open their network to MSN.
It is expected that AOL will develop other ways to expand revenue generated from instant messaging, like fee based instant messaging dating services. AOL is also developing “push to talk” services through video messaging. A user at their desk can record a video clip of themselves using a web cam, and then can send that clip through their instant messaging service, to a friend.
It’s not real-time communication, and it has yet to replace long distance calling, but JD Powers says that email and instant messaging pose “the single largest threat to conventional and long distance calling.”