IM-ing will overtake e-mail

Web services being developed to upgrade instant messaging will "revolutionize" Internet communications and commerce over the next three years and make it an even more powerful communications application than e-mail, according to Gartner Inc.

By 2006, according to Gartner, 50 percent of midsize and large businesses will rely on Web services. According to a survey by Gartner released May 1, 52 percent of consumers and 51 percent of business customers use America Online Inc. instant messaging. Additionally, 36 percent of consumers and 40 percent of business users use Microsoft Corp. instant messaging.

And the race for market share will only intensify as the total number of instant messaging users is expected to grow to 180 million worldwide by 2004, according to Gartner. Also, 60 percent of all real-time online communication — voice or text — will be driven via instant messaging technology.

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