Yahoo Yanks Price Tag from Enterprise IM

The company is no longer selling an enterprise version of its free instant-messaging client, choosing instead to focus on making its Yahoo Messenger client serve the needs of both business and consumer users.

Yahoo has canned sales of the enterprise version of its free instant-messaging client, officials said Friday.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company will now turn its focus to its free Yahoo Messenger client for both business and consumer users, Yahoo Inc. spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten said.

To help enterprises monitor and manage employees use of Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo has partnered with enterprise IM management software vendor Akonix Inc., Karlsten said. Akonixs software acts as proxy to monitor IM traffic and enforce corporate communication policies in real time.

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Yahoos decision to stop selling its enterprise IM platform did not come as a surprise to Sara Radicati, an analyst with messaging and collaboration research firm The Radicati Group Inc.

"Its a reflection of the fact that the attempts to offer pay-for services by the public network carriers have just not worked," Radicati said. "Its very hard once you offer a technology for free to say, Oops, we meant to make you pay for that.

"IM is clearly being used for business services, but the carriers need to find other ways to drive revenue, maybe by offering more interesting services on top of the free service as add-ons," she said. According to Radicatis research, about 85 percent of all U.S. enterprises use instant messaging in some form.

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America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp. and IBM are among the technology providers that offer IM services for businesses.

AOL last week announced that it had partnered with voice conferencing company LightBridge Inc. and Web meeting vendor WebEx Communications Inc. to provide services IM users can launch from their AIM clients.

Microsoft spokesman Brian Holdsworth said Friday that the Redmond, Wash., company has no plans to stop selling its enterprise IM platform, Live Communications Server 2003. "We think this market is still an emerging technology," Holdsworth said. "Were really just scratching the surface."

Carl Kriger, senior product manager for IBMs Lotus instant messaging client, reaffirmed that Big Blue has no plans to scrap its offering, either.

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