Rookie IM service challenging major players

Despite the branding and brawn of the major instant messaging (IM) services, a new IM application is rapidly gaining users due to its ability to interoperate with all the players, according to a report released Wednesday by Jupiter Media Metrix.

Debuting on the Jupiter charts with 344,000 unique users last February, the Trillian IM service now boasts 610,000 users, a 77 percent increase, the researcher noted.

Although the new IM application does not have the number of users of some of its high-profile rivals, such as America Online's (AOL) Instant Messenger (AIM), Microsoft's MSN Messenger, or Yahoo's Messenger, its growing audience, and the amount of time its users spend using the application, indicate that Trillian is up and coming.

Trillian's popularity rests in the fact that users do not want to run several competing IM applications just to keep in touch with friends, family and co-workers, Jupiter said. However, the major IM players have been reluctant to make their applications interoperable for fear of losing users.

According to Jupiter, in September of 2001 29 percent of home users ran at least two competing IM applications at once, while 23 percent of at-work users ran at least two rival IM clients.

As of April 2, 2002, AIM had the highest number of unique users, 31.4 million, followed by MSN Messenger with 29.1 million, and Yahoo Messenger with 19.1 million unique users. The ICQ Instant Message boasted 8.1 million users as of last April.

But while Trillian does not compare with its competitors in terms of user numbers, it does come out on top in terms of average minutes spent per user. Users spent an average 433 minutes on Trillian last April, compared to 324 minutes on AIM, 284 minutes on Yahoo, 119 minutes on ICQ and 109 minutes on MSN, according to Jupiter.

If Trillian can continue to attract users and maintain its interoperability, it could give the big boys a run for their money, Jupiter predicted.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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