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Mobile IM usage to soar

Business use of mobile Instant Messaging (IM) will accelerate into a $2bn-plus opportunity in Western Europe and North America by 2010, driven by a number of supply and demand side catalysts.

According to new research from Strategy Analytics, between secure and fully auditable enterprise IM platforms and public mobile IM services such as MSN Messenger, AIM and Yahoo! – both company sanctioned and rogue use of mobile IM is set to grow significantly.

Ultimately, the analyst predicts that mobile IM will emerge as a valuable real-time data complement to voice, mobile email and SMS, and set the stage for the integration of Presence into a range of enterprise applications.

In its latest report, “Time for Real-Time: Gauging the $2 Billion Mobile Enterprise Instant Messaging Opportunity”, Strategy Analytics believes several key IM drivers will feature over the coming years including increased enterprise awareness of IM’s benefits, a new breed of sub-$150 QWERTY smartphones pouring into the market, the advent of IMS core networks, and millions of IM-dependent users ready to enter the workforce.

Antoine Mathiaud, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, “surveys we have conducted clearly suggest that mobile IM strongly resonates with business cellular users looking for efficient always-on real-time communication tools.

“33 per cent of business cellular users in Western Europe, and 48 per cent in North America, are interested in presence-enabled services such as IM. Moreover, the next generation of workers is one that cannot remember life without the internet. This is a segment that is extremely receptive, even addicted, to IM and presence-enabled applications.”

Cliff Raskind, director of Wireless Enterprise Strategies at the firm adds that he sees wireless IM as the new data challenger to voice’s exclusive to date on real-time mobile communications.

“The inefficiencies of a decade of ‘hiding’ behind store and forward messaging are catching up with the business world, and managers well-versed in organisational behaviour are starting to realize that the high cost of inbox hygiene or playing excessive ‘phone tag’ often make email and voicemail ineffective communication channels,” Raskind said. “Presence-enabled services including IM and SIP-based voice will allow better coordination and control of highly effective interactive real-time communications, while reigning in their often intrusive nature.”

Earlier this week the GSM Association announced that its personal Instant Messaging (PIM) campaign has scored further success in Asia, with mobile operators in Malaysia and Singapore planning the development and launch of interoperable IM services.

Launched at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona last February, the initiative aims to make instant messaging on mobile networks as ubiquitous and popular as text messaging.

Fifteen operators: China Mobile, Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, TIM, T-Mobile, Turkcell, Vodafone, and India’s Aircel, Bharti, BSNL, Hutchison Essar, Idea, MTNL and Spice, signed initial Letters of Intent earlier this year, designed to make progress in the rollout of personal IM services that will work across networks.

Including new additions to this list, in Malaysia, all three GSM operators – Celcom, DiGi Telecommunications and Maxis – have agreed to launch interoperable IM services during 2007. Meanwhile, M1, SingTel Mobile and StarHub in Singapore will start to plan the development of interoperable IM services. India’s GSM operators, which announced that they would adopt personal IM in February, are planning to launch commercial services in early 2007.


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