11:55 AM

The ring that binds them all? IBM instant messaging agreements with AOL, Yahoo and Google

Parents stuck in the office will be able to chat with their kids and their friends thanks to IBM's Lotus group agreeing to combine its Lotus Sametime corporate instant messaging with that of AOL, Yahoo, and Google.

The additional capabilities of Lotus Sametime will help IBM extend the usefulness of its collaborative enterprise platform into the consumer IM space.

IBM says:

Sametime has about 20m corporate users among 60 percent of the Fortune Global 100, making it the largest in the enterprise space. There are 100 million IM users between the three public IM players.

In 2005, Lotus experienced 10% double-digit growth -- the first full year of double-digit growth for Lotus in more than a decade -- making it a key driver of revenue for IBM's $15.8 billion software business, second only in size to Microsoft. And, attendance at this year's Lotusphere customer/developer show is up 20% from last year, to 6,000 attendees, including 10% first-timers.

IBM's new interoperability with the top public instant messaging communities will be available with a new version of IBM's instant messaging product, Lotus Sametime 7.5, being announced today at Lotusphere, the annual show for corporate IT folks and developers in Orlando, Fla.

Available mid-2006, the new version of Sametime will also bring consumer instant messaging features like integrated voice and video into widespread corporate use, through agreements with telecommunications and A/V companies such as Avaya, Nortel and Siemens.

By converging corporate instant messaging with telephony and video capabilities, IBM's Sametime corporate users will have “click-to-call” capabilities, enabling them to instantly place a telephone call or initiate a business-quality video feed to an instant messaging contact (to a colleague, business partner, vendor, spouse or child) directly through their instant messaging client software.

These multimedia capabilities are examples of consumer technologies that are crossing over into mainstream corporate use.