Long Battle for an IM Standard
IM is used by more and more people each day. Such widespread use surely has potential to be quite profitable. How would IM companies bring this about, however? Few people would be willing to pay for IM programs at this point because they have been free so long. Or would they be? Are IM companies trying to get people hooked on IM so that they can begin charging people for the service in the future? Whether IM services made people upgrade the software for sending messages yearly, or if they charged a monthly fee, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL would have much to gain from this. Once people get into IM enough, they are unlikely to want to stop using it because its ease of use and its convenience. Who is going to pick up 6 phones to have separate conversations with all those people? Surely it is more useful to be able to talk to all these people online. IM services could also charge extra for premium features such as video or audio chat. Voice Over IP (VOIP) is a service that people pay for already, and online gamers find it especially useful. The gamers can split the cost of a subscription, log in, get into the same channel, and chat through their microphones while playing their game so as to facilitate clear communication. When playing team-based shooting games, such tools are extremely useful. AIM, Yahoo, and MSN messengers already have experience in providing voice chat; they could conceivably make some great money if they expanded their services to such applications in the future and charged users fees. Of course, they will need to make sure that the other companies do not provide the service for free. Oonce the market reaches the point where the companies need to start turning a profit using IM, however, such ventures could very conceivably make significant money.