IBM IM Will Link to AOL, Yahoo and Google IMs

IBM announced on Monday that its Lotus Sametime corporate instant-messaging (IM) system will soon have the ability to link to other IM services from America Online (AOL), Yahoo and Google, Reuters reports.

The IM systems should be linked by mid-year, representing a significant move towards consolidated IM services across the Internet.

Markedly missing from the equation is IBM arch rival, Microsoft.

Lotus Sametime has some 20 million users globally, with more than 25 companies that tout over 100,000 users each.  Sixty percent of the world’s largest companies use Sametime, IBM said.

AOL’s AIM service, the most popular IM system on the Internet, boasts twice as many users as Sametime in the U.S. alone, according to a comScore Media Matrix survey.

Yahoo’s IM service has roughly the same number of users as Sametime. 

Microsoft’s IM service has some 15 million users as of 2005.

Google has far fewer users than the others, having just introduced its IM service last year.

The industry standard technology, deemed Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) allows the disparate IM systems to connect.

IBM made the announcement at its annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Fla.

-Al Sacco

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