UPDATED: IBM does IM with Yahoo!, AOL and Google
IBM has announced a series of deals with some of the world’s major instant messaging suppliers to connect to its Lotus Sametime IM product. Big Blue has announced deals with Yahoo!, AOL to communicate with each other
IBM’s deals with Yahoo! and AOL means that users of Lotus Sametime 7.5 can interact with Yahoo! Messenger, AOL’s AIM and ICQ and the Apple iChat services. In addition to exchanging text instant messages, users will be able to see whether their friends and colleagues are online and manage their contact list.
The advantage for all these services is that IBM still controls the lion’s share of corporate infrastructure with some 15 million Sametime users around the world. Although the perception of IM has changed over the years it is still regarded by many as a tool for casual chatting rather than a serious business tool. The deals with IBM give IM further credibility.
The interoperability will be based on the SIP / SIMPLE industry standard protocol, and will establish a server-to-server connection, requiring only one login ID. IBM says it is building a new SIP-based Real-Time Collaboration Gateway that is currently planned for release later this year.
In addition, IBM and Google say they intend to develop interoperability between the IBM Lotus Sametime enterprise IM and the Google Talk public IM network. Recently, Google announced that it planned to include SIP in a future release of Google Talk opening the possibility of another round of interoperability announcements in the future. The search engine IM client is already able to communicate with a number of smaller messaging products through the Jabber/XMPP interface
It seems as though we might be at last coming to a time when all IM clients talk to each other. Although not involved in this latest round of love-ins, Microsoft announced an interoperability deal with Yahoo! last October. Perhaps it is not surprising that MSN Messenger is left out of the SameTime interoperability as Bill Gates was recently quoted as saying, ‘IBM has always been our biggest competitor’.
IBM says Sametime 7.5 should be available sometime in the middle of this year.