September 29, 2003 11:10 AM PDT
Reuters to link with MSN
The agreement, expected Tuesday, postdates similar connectivity deals between Reuters and other IM providers. Earlier this month, Reuters struck an agreement to connect its Reuters Messenger users with America Online's AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) community. Last week, IBM's Lotus division agreed to let Reuters Messenger connect with its Sametime corporate IM users.
Reuters, which is headquartered in London, is banking on connecting with major providers such as AOL and MSN as a way to sell Reuters Messaging to corporate clients. The company is the first to strike deals to connect with both AOL and MSN, traditional rivals that have sparred in the past over IM connectivity.
The deal with MSN is not surprising since Reuters Messenger software is based on a preliminary version of Microsoft's Live Communications Server 2003, the software giant's enterprise IM effort.
Reuters expects to launch access to MSN Messenger sometime in the first quarter of 2004, according to the source. That will fall around the same time Reuters launches access to AIM.
A Reuters representative declined to comment.
Instant messaging has become a popular tool for people to exchange text messages in real time. Services such as AOL, MSN and Yahoo offer IM as a free download and have amassed millions of users both at home and at work. Some of these services have additional built-in features, such as video streaming, file transferring or online gaming, to differentiate themselves from one another.
However, these services remain closed networks that cannot communicate with one another. This lack of IM interoperability benefits service providers because consumers are forced to download multiple IM clients onto their PCs in order to chat with their buddies. This has helped IM services flourish and has lessened the urgency to interoperate.
Executives from AOL, MSN and Yahoo have all made public comments claiming that there are no business incentives to open their consumer IM services. But the companies all agree that selling IM to businesses will be one way to tap revenue from a traditionally free service.