The Instant Messenger is one of the most underrated applications of the internet.
IMs over time have become more powerful with more and more features like Voice communication and File transfer. But one of the most recent applications of IM is Twitter which is fast becoming a new way to communicate.
What makes the IM very powerful?
1. It is textual — no fancy images or UI garbage
2. It is both Push *and* Pull — Push makes it ideal for receiving event updates like the way Twitter does
3. It is non intrusive
All these combined with a command line like interface make IM a very good way to access applications via an IRC bot.
For e.g. to send a direct message on twitter to a person, you send the following to Twitter
“d <name> <message>”
I cannot help but think that this is going to give way to much more powerful applications of an IM bot:
1. Search the web and get answers for stock quotes, news events, dictionary, weather etc.
2. Event aggregation for sites like FriendFeed, Facebook, Remember the milk etc. I found a service called IMified which seems to be doing this already.
3. Access file systems on a remote machine. Using DOS/Unix like commands, a user should be able to access a file system and download files using File Transfer on IM. With Microsoft announcing Mesh framework, this feature doesn’t seem too far from the future
4. Custom apps: A user might be able to define a custom app to ping her the names of friends from her social network who are celebrating their birthdays on this day. Or maybe an alert on the IM if a stock falls or rises beyond a point. Business applications like Salesforce.com etc can obviously add this to their service portfolio.
I am sure that a whole host of web services can be brought to the IM, but the question is how are you going to make money on the Instant Messenger?
Such a service can gather a LOT of information about the user over time and this makes way for targeted ads. And if it proves to be very useful, it can always be a paid service.