ArsTechnica tells us that Microsoft and Yahoo will integrate their IM Networks.
Sources tell me that Microsoft and Yahoo will announce a new partnership tomorrow that includes Instant Messaging network sharing that will effectively allow MSN Messenger users to talk to Yahoo’s IM users, and vice versa. While details are not yet available, it is expected that the deal will include Voice-over-IP (VoIP) support, so users of both networks can blab at each other.
This is good news for the users of both networks, but we should thank Google for it. Had they not started an IM service and made intercommunication with other networks a major goal, it’s unlikely that Microsoft or Yahoo would be driven to such a decision.
The big decision now falls to AOL: do they join up with Google, and bring a tremendous jolt of legitimacy to Google Talk, or do they join up with rival MSN and Yahoo, and push Google’s offering into the margins.
For any of these companies, are they really losing anything by interoperating? To me, it seems the value of an IM user isn’t the messages they’re sending or who they’re sending them to. Instead, it’s having that user run a client in their system tray that ties in to other services like search and webmail (and therefore ads). The current thinking, of course, is that if my friends are on Yahoo, and I’m on AOL, I will have to install YChat to talk to them. The reality, of course, is that I’ll install something like Trillian, and they’ll both lose.
In the end, of course, the rest of us just want to be able to talk to whoever, whenever, however, and not worry about who’s on what network. IM seems to be heading this way, so it’s good news.