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Instant Messenger Services

Joel once wrote this text in an article called
Strategy Letter I: Ben and Jerry's vs. Amazon


<quote>

Another extremely strong network effect is proprietary chat systems like ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger. If you want to chat with people, you have to go where they are, and ICQ and AOL have the most people by far. Chances are, your friends are using one of those services, not one of the smaller ones like MSN Instant Messenger. With all of Microsoft's muscle, money, and marketing skill, they are just not going to be able to break into auctions or instant messaging, because the network effects there are so strong.

</quote>

I started out using ICQ when it just came out. It was great. A year later or so, when the whole IM thing took off, all my family members and friends that didn't use computers that much started to use MSN. In the end I was "forced" to use MSN Instant Messenger, or else I wouldn't be able to communicate with them. These days, I don't even have ICQ installed anymore.

I do use Gaim though, but that's on Linux, and that's mostly because I wan't to be able to use MSN IM on Linux.

It seems to my that Microsoft did infact manage to compete in a market, that was totally controlled by ICQ and AOL.
Or maybe it was because they started out by taking all the new users, the once that didn't have an IM client.

Since I don't use online auctions I don't know about the MSN Auctions, but you only hear about Ebay, so I'm guessing that they didn't succed in the auctions sector.

But still...

What about the rest of you? Do you use MSN, ICQ, AOL or Yahoo!? Is it true that Microsoft also has taken over that sector or is it just my family and friends?

Rasmus

Rasmus Grunnet
Friday, December 27, 2002

I don't chat (or SMS). Tried both once and found it a highly inefficient way to communicate. The main conclusion probably is that I am getting really old.

Jan Derk
Friday, December 27, 2002

ICQ... and MSN a bit, but just because we have to use MSN at work (temporary need it for testing).
You`ve seen my ICQ UIN, Rasmus, it`s rather old, so I`ve started to use ICQ several years ago. Tried out other messengers, but they all sux, especially Yahoo! - awful UIs, lack of features, etc. (of course, ICQ is a bit overloaded by features:)
All my friends use ICQ, my contact list has about 150 entries...
I`ve found that ICQ is very useful at work.

Slava
Friday, December 27, 2002

I use ICQ; beats the others hands down.

What I really liked was the ability to send SMS messages for free from the messenger client and from the web. The trouble is that the phone company I sent the SMS messages to, Dialog GSM in Sri Lanka is no longer one of the partners - and that's after I got my regular contacts to change mobile provider to it!

And I know I've said this somewhere before, but SMS  allows people from third world countries to keep in touch with their relatives iback home without breaking the bank, and ithus has saved and will save more heartbreak than the whole internet revolution combined.

Stephen Jones
Friday, December 27, 2002

I've been using a really old text / telnet based BBS system at http://mono.org since 1992, which preceeded all GUI based chat and discussion rooms, and it somehow seems to have survived well. Never used ICQ, AOL or MSN.

Better than being unemployed....
Friday, December 27, 2002

I used ICQ for several years, until I finally got tired of its UI and all its "bell and whistles"... I was delighted by MSN's simple and useful UI, with only the features that I wanted, plus a few more buried where they don't hinder (and it's already installed). All my friends, family, and colleagues use MSN, so that's all I use.

I expected ICQ to become simpler to use, and more slick... Or that another company would do it, but I never thought it would be MS, lol.

Napoleon Hill :-)
Friday, December 27, 2002

I use MSN, AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo Messenger, thanks to Trillian.  Won't catch me on IRC, though -- while I like keeping in contact with friends even when they're halfway around the planet, I'm strictly a one-to-one communicator.  Group chat drives me bonkers.

Frankly, I find the fragmentation annoying.  I realize that each one probably has unique features, but I rather expected that various IM protocols would have become interoperable by now.  Instead, the only solution is the rather kludgey method of using a multilingual client.

Sam Gray
Friday, December 27, 2002

AIM continues to appear to have a stranglehold but I expect MSN to take over since it is the platform likely to be used for business.

pb
Friday, December 27, 2002

It seems to me that everyone people I know use AOL and also may use their email provider's IM client (Yahoo or MSN) because of the email notification feature. I know one person using Yahoo just for that reason but he also often uses AOL. I know a few people w/ Hotmail accounts or MSN as an ISP so they are also on both AOL and MSN.

I use Trillian also so I am on all four major networks.

dmooney
Friday, December 27, 2002

I use ICQ as all my friends use it.

Martin Schultz
Friday, December 27, 2002

I use jabber.  It's an open protocol, and my friends use it.  I especially like how all the implementations I've used have the 'debug xml' option, so I can send around the xml and see what it does, all in a nice gui interface.

I've used corp icq, and didn't like how it was so obstrusive; nor did the file transfers work very well.  Other than that, icq did its job with some nice features.

anon
Friday, December 27, 2002

I used to use ICQ, since that's where my friends were. I was never very easy with the way it worked from the start, and each release just made it feel bulkier, slower and more stupid. Their introduction of ad banners was the final straw, but I doubt I would have stayed on it much longer anyway.

I also used to use Yahoo... that stopped with their stupid gimmicky INVironments feature... I could see where that was going to lead.

Now I use MSN. All the friends that I talked to on the old services and still want to talk to use MSN, and it doesn't have nearly as many annoyances as the other IM systems I've tried. That said, as the version number increases it's starting to annoy me more also.

As for Trillian and such... I tried Trillian once, and gaim once and the UIs of both were foul enough to warrant almost instant removal.

Lach
Friday, December 27, 2002

Personally I liked (or like) a lot of the features in ICQ, e.g. the SMS sending feature, but it's just too complicated for a lot of people,  e.g. my little sister. MSN on the other hand is REALLY simple to use. You can do that many fancy things with it, but some people don't really care.

I think the simplicity is one of the reasons that MSN got that big a market share.

Although it sounds like a lot of people are still using the other clients.

Rasmus Grunnet
Saturday, December 28, 2002

I stopped using MSN because none of my friends use it. I mostly use Yahoo, AIM, and I also linger on IRC (undernet) as I have for years simply because I have come know people there. It's kind of funny knowing people for so long but never meeting them because they are on the other side of the world.

Ian Stallings
Saturday, December 28, 2002

A lot of people seemed to like the SMS feature... this is probably something that would have made me like ICQ more (though certainly not enough to put up with the ads) if it had actually worked. Out of about 7 or 8 attempted SMS messages I only ever got one through. Didn't anyone else have these problems? Is it that ICq only works properly for SMS in North America?

Lach
Sunday, December 29, 2002

You must check to see which companies accept the ICQ SMS feature.

It works for my brother's telco in the UK and his ex-wife's. It also worked perfectly for Dialog in Sri Lanka until they went off the feature. For Saudi it appears to depend on the prefix.

In general though the feature is excellent; moreover you can access it from the web so you can send SMS messages from any computer free of charge.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, December 29, 2002

By the way? What ads on ICQ? I have never seen any using the control center and SMS feature: ditto for using the web site.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, December 29, 2002

What ads? The ads on the actual message windows. Don't tell me they've removed them now or something?

As for the SMS.. this was with a partner they had. Those 7 or 8 or however many messages I went to send were all to the same number, all sent while the person was in their house. Only one got through.

Lach
Sunday, December 29, 2002

I actually like the trillian interface a lot. I find it as simple as any other IM to do straight chat, and it includes most of the useful features that are specific to each environment. I started out by using ICQ, but it quickly became slow and bulky, so me and all my online friends switched to MSN. However, all my college friends used YM (you can see where this is going ...), and for a while I actually had 3 messengers sitting on the taskbar. Now trillian does everything in a great way, and I like its UI the best, so I would have probably used it even if I was only on one service. In linux, its gaim, mainly for the multiprotocol support.

Trillian is the best
Sunday, December 29, 2002

By the way, what ads in ICQ?:) It`s easy to remove them and also lots of other things in ICQ, just download and apply the patch.

Slava
Monday, December 30, 2002

Miranda (miranda-icq.sourceforge.net) is THE ICQ client, period.

I'm slowly drifting from ICQ to MSN - MSN IM is getting more reliable these days.

Assen
Monday, December 30, 2002

Used to have ICQ. Always hated it. They must have hired expert UI designers, and then ask them to come up with the most horrible things they could imagine.
Luckily my peer group all changed over to Messenger.
Clean, simple, good UI. Does the job.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, January 02, 2003

I used to use ICQ back when it was by far the most popular service (before MSN was really used). However since then people have been moving to other systems and the people I needed to talk to were fairly evenly spread over ICQ, MSN and AIM. So I got Trillian ( www.trillian.cc ) which allows you to use ICQ, MSN, AIM, Yahoo and IRC from one program. I don't use Instant Messenging a huge amount but it's the most convenient way to communicate with some people so I do still use it.

James Ussher-Smith
Thursday, January 02, 2003

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