PortalLycos yesterday launched its Anywhere IM (Instant Messaging) service, allowing users for the first time to talk to people on other online chat facilities, in an attempt to steal some of the market share from giants MSN and Yahoo!
"[Current services] are like offering a mobile phone where users can only speak to people on the same network. Lycos looks to break down the boundaries and remove restrictions so that everyone can enjoy the best services that the web can offer," said Alex Kovach, managing director at Lycos UK and Ireland.
Its Anywhere package will remove the need to log in and out of one messaging service to talk to a friend on another. Users can simply copy their existing buddy lists from MSN or Yahoo and chat to those people through Lycos.
"[Buddy] lists are user-generated content and therefore owned by the individual, we therefore do not foresee any problems with regards to [transferring such lists]," said a company spokesman.
Lycos claims that until now many people have been prevented from using IM services due to firewall restrictions. However, its Anywhere service is able to work on three different carrier protocols — which it detects and configures automatically — thereby allowing users to get round such measures.
"The HTPP port is generally available because firewall restrictions would prevent web pages from being served," said a spokesman.
Lycos was quick to point out that this does not make the service any less secure than those offered by MSN or Yahoo. Although, the company recognises that it is easy to listen into conversations across all IM services which could only be prevented through encryption, something it is planning to offer as a premium feature.