Instant messaging at work jumps 110 per cent

Business users are warming up to instant messaging over the Internet, catching up with the explosive growth the service has enjoyed among home users, according to a new study.

Among the three leading brands of instant messenger – America Online Inc.’s AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Messenger – business use was up 110 per cent in the United States over the past year, from 2.3 billion minutes in September 2000, to 4.9 billion minutes in September 2001, research firm Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. said in a statement Wednesday.

In the workplace, 13.4 million unique users were counted this September, up 34 per cent from 10 million users during the same month a year earlier.

Despite the rapid growth, business users are still far outnumbered by home instant-messaging enthusiasts, according to the Jupiter figures. Home users increased 28 per cent, from 42 million in September 2000 to 53.8 million in September 2001, and spent a total of 13.6 billion minutes using the service the month before last, a jump of 48 per cent from the 9.2 billion minutes logged in September 2000.

In the workplace, as at home, AIM is the leading instant-messaging brand, but its competitors are gaining ground, Jupiter reported. AOL had 8.8 million unique business users in September 2001, up 17 per cent over the year; MSN had 4.8 million users, up 88 per cent; and Yahoo had 3.4 million users, up 83 per cent.

However, AIM’s workplace users are racking up faster growth in terms of minutes spent using the service. AIM was used for 3.6 billion minutes in September 2001, a jump of 149 per cent from September 2000. Yahoo messenger usage grew only 60 per cent over the period, to 603 million minutes; and MSN gained a mere 32 per cent, to 651 million minutes.

Jupiter Media Metrix, in New York, can be reached at