FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 10, 2004

IM Nation

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a report titled "How Americans Use Instant Messaging." The findings, putting it mildly, are startling. Among them:
  • 24% of the 53 million Americans who IM swap instant messages more frequently than e-mails.
  • Of Americans who IM, 21% do so at work. Of those, half believe IM helps them save time and be more productive, though nearly a third believe that IM promotes gossip, and 11% feel IM causes stress.
  • The younger you are, the more likely you are to IM. Nearly half of Gen-Y (18-24 year olds) IM, while only 18% of Gen-X (28-39 year olds) IM. For older age groups, the numbers steadily decline.
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is the leading IM client, followed closely by services from Yahoo! and MSN. These "big three" dominate IM market share.
  • Most IMers have relatively limited "buddy lists," with the number of people they regularly IM less than five.
  • Many IM users leverage their clients' advanced features to swap photos and files, and perform other tasks.
  • Only 15% said they use wireless devices, such as phones or laptops, to IM.
A similar survey conducted by The Radicati Group corroborates many of these findings, stating that:
  • 85% of all North American enterprises use IM in some capacity.
  • The number of enterprises worldwide using IM is expected to rise from 20% today to 80% by the end of 2008.
  • "Spim" (IM-based spam) and data security will be the top concerns of enterprises as they continue to deploy commercial grade IM applications.
The bottom line: IM is here to stay, and is a major element of both Internet and corporate life. As the Gen-Y's move into the workplace, they will expect IM to be used as a productivity tool, just as Gen-Xers and Boomers expected e-mail to be. And as younger workers move into management positions, they'll have the power to implement IM at work where it doesn't already exist.