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Ask DLS: Business Week declares IM dead - what do you think?

On Sunday, Business Week published an article stating "It's the end of instant messaging as we know it." In columnist Douglas MacMillan's mind, integrated chat features on sites like Facebook and GMail have signed the death warrant.

Oh really? That's kind of interesting, because there's a lot of evidence that IM is alive and kicking.

Taking a quick look at some stats on, I notice that these apps still seem to be pretty damn popular. Pidgin has more than half a million downloads to date. Since Trillian was added to the site, it's been downloaded almost 37 million times.

The latest release of Live Messenger 14 is well over 400,000 in just two months - and these numbers don't take into account the numerous other mirrors for these (and numerous other IM) apps.

Embedded chat on websites has been around for ages. It's not a new concept, though it continues to evolve and improve. For example, there was the recent addition of voice and video to GMail.

That's great, but I still have a lot of contacts that don't use the service. Many of my family members and friends are still using the same POP server and clients they were 10 years ago. My contacts are using a number of different apps and services, and I'm not about to leave five sites open in Firefox tabs just so I can utilize embedded chat.

MacMillan also references a Facebook stat: 60% of its users have tried the site's chat toolbar. What does that mean, really? I used the bar once and didn't like it, but I assume that was probably enough to count.

Personally, I'm a Digsby user and I prefer the simplicity of accessing all my networks from one desktop app. I can't
be bothered to see which contacts are signed in to Facebook, GMail, MSN, or direct messaging me on Twitter separately.

What about you? Does the embedded messaging offered on any single site do enough to kill desktop clients?

Tags: askdls, chat, im, instant-messaging