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CNET News.com: FTC unlikely to force AOL to share instant messaging

Aug 21, 2000, 16:02 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Patrick Ross)

"While the FTC said it won't comment on pending antitrust investigations, a high-ranking official confirmed that it's difficult to apply existing antitrust law to instant messaging because the service is offered free, meaning there's no commercial market to regulate."

"About 80 percent of all IM users favor AOL's proprietary software, but competitors such as Microsoft that want access to those IM users have sought to use the regulatory review processes of the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission and the European Union to force AOL to open its IM network. The FTC, the FCC, and the European Union must approve the merger for it to be completed."

"Clearly, this is a positive for AOL," said ING Barings analyst Youssef Squali. While he thinks AOL will eventually open its IM network, Squali said, "Time is of the essence...and time is on AOL's side." As long as AOL can keep its IM service closed, Squali said it "keeps gaining more and more regular users and more and more market share."

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