With the introduction of Facebook Chat in April 2008, MySpace finally has another client to call competition; but, in a head-to-head match-up, which one will rule to social networking landscape? Take a closer look in this side-by-side comparison of two heavyweight social-IMs.
Before users can access either IM client, they must first sign-up for an account with each of the social networks. Then, here is where the set-up process differs:
Since its arrival, MySpaceIM has offered its users a pretty simple process to get started: simply download the client application (which is relatively small compared to other IMs at just under 300kb) and install as with any other instant messenger. Once installed, users sign-in to the client and can begin instant messaging friends, in addition to accessing MySpace content.
Meanwhile, Facebook Chat is unique in that it follows the mold of some more contemporary IMs; this new client is completely web-based, meaning no client to download and no installation required. Start-up is a breeze—as simple as signing in to the Facebook website on the web browser of your choice. Once signed-in, the FacebookIM application appears along the bottom of the page, notifying users of how many contacts are signed in. The great part about Facebook IM is everyone is able to use the client—no separate sign-up, like MySpaceIM. Facebook Chat: 1, MyspaceIM: 0.
Experience and Efficiency
While MySpaceIM has not always been very efficient, recent releases of the client paired with Skype (a VOiP application) capabilities makes this social-IM fierce competition. In addition to IM with top friends and new contacts alike, the new MySpace client has enough great features to make even AIM and Yahoo! take notice; status messaging, PC to PC voice chat via Skype and access to a number of MySpace-embedded features makes this one interactive IM. Overall, the experience is pretty good, although the connection quality over Skype isn’t always the best.
Facebook Chat, however, seems to be facing some stumbling blocks in its first release; in addition to the lack of features (all this client does is provide IM to all your contacts—no more, no less), there are some performance issues the developers need to address. One major flaw I have found is the means by which users send IMs—pressing “Enter” to send seems to work when it wants to. Other times, it does not. Users must resort to clicking within the IM window and out before pressing “Enter” again. I also noticed with multiple chats, freezing browser windows occur more often than not. While the client is overall a nice feature, Facebook must address some of these performance issues—and add some additional features—if it wants to become a top social-IM. MySpaceIM: 1, Facebook Chat: 1
The Final Word
The best news of all is that a few multi-protocol IMs, including Digsby and Adium, among others, offer access to these social networks without having to use their own clients. If I had to name a favorite among the social IMs, however, I would give one additional point to MySpaceIM for its added personalization options, making it a far better experience than Facebook Chat.
Note to MySpaceIM: Find a way to embed your client to your social site—without slowing down the rate at which your pages load (which, I am afraid, takes too long already). If you can successfully bring everyone on board with MySpaceIM without a download, you will have it made. Four Stars for MySpaceIM. Two Stars for Facebook Chat.