Yahoo is boosting its enterprise instant messaging (IM) product by adding features such as the ability to launch a web conference.
Under a deal with WebEx Communications, the next version of Yahoo Messenger Enterprise Edition will allow users to set up and launch WebEx meetings, giving video, IP voice and telephone conferencing capabilities, as well as the ability to share some applications, browsers and desktops.
With the upgrade, the internet company is hoping to tap into the growing popularity of both corporate instant messaging and web conferencing, which have experienced an rise in adoption over the past couple of years.
Yahoo's enterprise messaging product will also integrate IM functionality into BEA Systems' WebLogic Workshop unified developer environment, allowing developers to build IM presence - or the ability to see when another user is online and available to communicate - and IM-based applications using Yahoo Messenger Control for WebLogic Workshop.
The integration comes after an agreement with BEA, aimed at allowing developers to integrate IM "bots" into back-end systems such as corporate directories and collaboration tools.
BEA already plans to integrate Yahoo Messenger IM functionality into the upcoming version of its eSupport online customer support service, allowing customers to IM the company's support engineers and account managers.
Yahoo's move to enhance its corporate IM product comes as rivals such as Microsoft and America Online are battling for their own places in the up-and-coming market, where demand for tighter business collaboration tools seems to be driving a set of offerings.
Market research firm The Radicati Group predicted that worldwide corporate instant messaging market would reach $344m (£206m) by 2007, led by North America.
The group also estimated that active IM accounts would grow from 590 million in 2003 to 1.4 billion in 2007.
This demand for corporate IM will open the door to the emergence of IM management and enterprise development tools, Radicati said.
The existing version of Yahoo Messenger Enterprise Edition already offers text messaging, file transfer and Webcam functions, as well as message encryption, virus scanning and message logging.
Scarlett Pruitt writes for IDG News Service
This was first published in June 2003