Yahoo to add video to instant messaging

Yahoo is set to announce that it is adding video to its instant messenger (IM) service so that users will be able to see other IM users by means of Web cameras, a source at the company said.

The IM service works with Webcams made by Logitech and has been offered on a trial basis for the past three weeks on the Yahoo Web site, http://messenger.yahoo.com/messenger/webcams.html.

In order for users to see each other in real time over the Webcam, users on both ends of the connection must be registered Yahoo IM users, run Microsoft's Windows 95, NT, or 98 operating systems, have the Logitech QuickCam (advertised on the Yahoo site for $US79.99) and download the "Start My Webcam" software provided for free on the site.

Yahoo's IM is under heavy competition from Microsoft -- which is planning to embed its Messenger software in the Windows XP operating system to be released on October 25 -- and the dominant player in the IM market, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) from AOL Time Warner.

According to an International Data Corp. (IDC) study released earlier this month, the number of corporate users of instant messaging systems will grow from 18.3 million in 2001 to 229 million in 2005. That number has almost tripled since last year, though corporate users still lag behind the 132 million individuals now using IM. The number of individual users is expected to swell to more than 300 million in 2005, according to the IDC study.

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Laura Rohde

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