While most IMs perform the same way and offer many similar features, such as free chat rooms, video and audio chat, file sharing and more, the audience each type of IM client serves is markedly different from the next.
What messenger is your type?
Audience: Great for beginners to instant messaging, general IM users.
The most popular IM clients, based on total users, fall under the category of single-protocol IMs. These apps connect you typically to their own network of users, but may also offer integration of other popular IM services.
Examples of Single-Protocol IM Clients
- AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)
- Facebook Chat
- Google Talk (Gtalk)
- Windows Live Messenger (Formerly MSN)
- Yahoo Messenger
Audience: A perfect for solution for users with more than one IM account.
Like the name implies, multi-protocol IM clients allow users to connect multiple IM services within a single app. Previously, IM users had to download, install and use more than one IM client at once to stay connected with everyone. Single-protocol messengers make up the basis of your buddy list on these programs, allowing you to chat with friends regardless of service.
Examples of Multi-Protocol IM Clients
Audience: A great resource for public computer users, for example, at the library, Internet cafe, at school or work, where downloading an IM client may be forbidden.
Generally, web messengers (also known as web-based IM clients) are accessible with little more than an Internet connection and a web browser. A download is not necessary. Web messengers typically offer multi-protocol IM support, but some single-protocol web-based clients have been produced to appease their network of users.
Examples of Web Messengers
- AIM Express
- eBuddy Web Messenger
- Web ICQ
- I Love IM
- IM+ Web Messenger
- Nimbuzz Web Messenger
- Windows Live Web Messenger
- Yahoo Messenger for the Web
Audience: For users who want to chat on the go.
With the proliferation of Wi-Fi and Internet-enabled mobile devices, smartphones and even older cell phones, there are dozens of IM client apps, web messengers and text messaging-based IM options available for the mobile user. Most mobile IM clients require a download and are free, while some premium IM apps are also available.
Examples of Mobile IM Clients
- iPhone IM Client Apps
- AIM TXT
- Google Talk SMS
- Google Talk Mobile
- eBuddy for iPhone
- eBuddy Mobile
- eBuddy Lite Messenger
- Facebook Chat for iPhone
Audience: For businesses and organizations, their employees and their customers.
Although many users find IM as a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, many businesses are now turning to the power of IM for their business communications. Enterprise IM clients are specialized messengers that offer all the features of IM with the security businesses need.
Examples of Enterprise IM Clients
Audience: For IM users on public or private computers, who either cannot download an IM client to their computer or who choose not to download the software.
In addition to web messengers, portable IM clients allow users access to their favorite client software on a USB flash drive; once installed on the flash drive, these mini-versions of their computer-based counterparts can be used by chat with friends and family by plugging the drive into the computer and executing the portable IM app.
Examples of Portable IM Clients