"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
"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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