Americans prefer instant messaging to emails: AOL survey

MUMBAI: Instant messaging (IM) is up 19 per cent year over year and is deeply entrenched in the US with many Americans sending as many -- if not more -- IMs than they do emails. Meanwhile, at-work and mobile messaging have gone mainstream, according to the third, annual Instant Messaging Trends Survey from AOL.


Today, multiple screen names, parental IM rules for teens and rampant "away messaging" are standard across all regions, genders and ages. Instant messaging has taken over as the communications vehicle of choice with 25 per cent of users saying, that they would like to see entertainment content within IM and 20 percent saying,that they would like to make voice calls to landlines and cell phones directly from their IM service.

Thirty-eight percent say they send as many or more IMs than emails, and the younge rthe users are, the more likely they are to favor IM. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of teens and young adults (ages 13-21) say they send more IMs than emails, up from 49 per cent last year.

More than half (53 per cent) of teens (ages 13-17) surveyed ,say their parents now issue guidelines and rules about instant messaging. Teen boys (55 per cent) are more likely to have parental IM rules than are teen girls (50 per cent), and 65 percent of teens who have rules say they follow them.

One in three (33 per cent) IM users send mobile IMs or text messages from their cell phones at least once a week. This, is a dramatic increase over 2004, when just 19 percent said they do so, and 2003 when the figure was 10 per cent.Half (47 per cent) of those between the ages 13-21 change their 'away' messages every day, to let others know where they are (71 per cent), to list a cell phone number or an alternate way to be reached (47 per cent) or to post a favorite lyric or quote (47 per cent). Seven per cent have even posted a call to action, like "Please donate to the Red Cross to help hurricane victims."

At-work IM users now send IMs to communicate with colleagues (58 per cent), to get answers and to make business decisions (49 per cent) and even to interact with clients or customers (28 per cent). Twelve percent have used IM at work to avoid a difficult in-person conversation.

One in four (26 per cent) IM users say that live streaming television is the one feature that they wish was available on their IM service. Music on demand came in second (25 per cent) and video on demand was third (21 per cent).

Meanwhile, 20 per cent say they currently enjoy, or would like to try, making live voice calls to other computers, landlines and cell phones directly from their IM service. Another 12 percent say they would be interested in an IM-based VoIP service that could replace their primary household phone line.

"Instant messaging is a part of everyday life, with more and more people using their IM service as a starting point for all communications, from sending mobile messages to friends on cell phones to placing VoIP-based phone calls," America Online, Inc. AIM and ICQ vice president and general manager, Chamath Palihapitiya said. "Usage is spiking, and not just among teens. Parents, grandparents and professionals are all using instant messaging to stay in touch and enhance their day-to-day communications."

Nationwide and around the world, instant messaging use is growing, with nearly 12 billion instant messages being sent every day worldwide, according to IDC. ComScore Media Metrix reports that there are more than 300 million people across the globe including almost 80 million Americans -- who regularly use instant messaging as a quick and convenient communications tool.

The AOL(R) Instant Messaging Trends survey of more than 4,000 respondents ages 13 and over was conducted in partnership with Opinion Research Corporation from September 16-26, 2005. According to the survey, the top ten markets for instant messaging are: 1. Miami, FL; 2. New York, NY; 3. Boston, MA; 4. Chicago, IL; 5. Atlanta, GA; 6. Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX; 7. Detroit, MI; 8. San Francisco, CA; 9. Sacramento, CA; 10. Tampa, FL.

One in three (33 percent) IM users say, they also send SMS messages or mobile instant messages at least once a week from their cell phone. Nearly half (47 percent) of IM users aged 13-21 engage in text messaging and mobile instant messaging, while 42 percent do the same. Meanwhile, one-quarter (24 percent) of those aged 35-54 said they send messages from their cell phones.

The interest in making PC-to-phone calls from the IM service is high around the globe, with Brazil leading the way. In fact, 60 percent of Brazilian IM users want to make PC-to-phone VoIP calls. Meanwhile, 48 percent of IM users in Hong Kong and 45 percent in Germany want to do the same.

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