Keni Barwick commented recently that he was worried about MSN Messenger having gone AWOL from Windows Mobile 5.0. The answer it seems is Pocket MSN. Microsoft wants to charge a one-off fee of Â£10.99 to use MSN Messenger on a mobile device.
As I commented on Keni’s blog, I tend to agree that if MSN Messenger were to be removed from smartphones then that would be a pretty dumb move (from one of the smartest marketing companies in the world), and without it the whole presence element of Microsoft’s mobility strategy starts to fall apart. Microsoft are claiming that 20% of all enterprise users make use of instant messaging (IM) services (either for business, or because their company allows it) and that this is expected to rise to 80% by the end of 2008 – not surprisingly, they want a piece of this market.
I’m reliably informed that the reason for public IM connectivity in Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005 being chargeable is because AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! require Microsoft Corporation (remember, MSN is a separate company) to subsidise them for lost advertising revenues where companies use the Windows Messenger and Office Communicator (ad-free) clients with LCS. Of course, as there are no ads in the mobile version of MSN Messenger, perhaps that is the justification for charging for that too?
Of course, charging for IM could be about opening up the mobile device market to other IM clients in an attempt to avoid landing themselves in court for allegedly behaving in an an anti-competitive manner. After all, it seems that the European Union (EU) is taking Microsoft’s dominant market position more seriously than the US Department of Justice (DoJ).