It looks as if the initial spate of enthusiasm over coming up
with an instant messaging standard in the face of AOL's
intransigence on the issue is faltering. An independent consortium
of AOL competitors called "IMUnified," for instance, says the
deadline it set for a standard implementation was "unrealistic,"
and Jabber's Andre Durand says things aren't any further along than
they were a year ago. Meanwhile, Microsoft's share of the market
grows as the company provides its own broad IM platform.
"From a strategic standpoint, IM providers will
certainly want to work with any underlying protocol that Microsoft
would want to support without question because of their strength in
the marketplace," said Alex Diamandis, an executive at rival IM
company Odigo. AOL Time Warner "doesn't have the ability to do what
Microsoft can do, which is to embed it into all of these other
applications--embed it into Outlook, embed it into Office, embed it
into browsers, and on and on."
The strategy reflects significant changes in the marketplace
from a year ago. Although AOL Time Warner still leads with the
combined use of its separate AIM and ICQ networks, Microsoft has
presented evidence that its MSN Messenger service is the
single-most widely used IM service."