"America Online has said it supports the idea of a universal
protocol for open instant messaging, and some parties are asking
the FTC to make this a prerequisite of approving AOL's merger with
Time Warner. The company appears to be dragging its feet, possibly
to drag out its proprietary advantage. But with workarounds like
Jabber, is that a problem?"
Technology Reporter for O'Reilly Network and Forbes ASAP:
[AOL has] every advantage in the world for not moving on this. They
have a monopoly position. They have over 90 percent of the market.
You can make the case that instant messaging is free, so what good
is a monopoly. But the AOL Instant Messenger has a little ad window
on it, which they can sell, and that's lucrative. They also steer
more traffic to their portal pages, ICQ.com and AOL.com. …
And it's a classic case of viral marketing: if you and I are both
on here and a friend of ours is going to get a chat client, they're
going to want to chat with us. And if the only way they can do that
is AOL Instant Messenger, that's probably the one they're going to
Story[ Entire roundtable discussion is a 3.7 MB audio
download; more quoted text excerpts appear on the web page - LT ed.