When will IM take off?


Instant messaging is all about communicating quickly and efficiently with a friend or a colleague.
Instant messaging (IM) has been around for a long time, but has yet to sweep the main stream.
Why is this and who really needs it?
This is the big question and, I’m not sure.

When I got my last mobile contract, I also got a whole bunch of sms (texts!) and an unlimited data bundle. I thought this was going to bring email to my phone, and it did. But I rarely use it to connect with people. Part of the problem for me has been my friends reluctance to email. I think it’s a work thing, we use email at work at have developed an aversion to it at home. The other point here is that most of my friends do not have data tariffs on their mobile and therefore do not embrace the mobile internet as a whole. So email for me is not an important communication tool.

The same can be said for IM services. They are useful, cheap and effective, but unless you’re at the computer they are fairly restrictive.
There are lots of applications that work on mobiles that allow you to IM, such as fring, MSN, yahoo etc, but we (at least here in the UK) are being held back by our network operators not offering data bundles as standard and failing to drive customer demand.
Another potential problem is that many of us have a text bundle that is huge. Why IM when sms is just as good?

For me this is where the point of IM is lost. Instant messaging is about connecting with people who are online at the same time as you, who might be sharing similar experiences or maybe have something cool to say. Texting is more formal and this form of communication is different to instant messaging. It often lacks the spontaneity that comes from IM. I find that using an IM service helps me keep in touch with friends, who I would not normally text or email. I suppose this is why facebook has been so successful. But I’m tired of that already!

One of my favourite ways of instant messaging is using gmail. Gtalk is built right in and I can see which of my contacts are online and send them a quick message. It is so easy to use, I just wish more of my friends would finally get themselves a gmail account.

As previously posted, I’ve started to twitter and I’m starting to like it.

Could this be why twitter has crept into my life?