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Analysis: Google Unlikely To Change Fragmented IM Market

As the new kid in the instant-messaging market, Google Inc. wants to be friends with everyone, but it's unlikely the seasoned players will let rivals get close to their subscribers.

In launching Google Talk , the Mountain View, Calif., search engine called for interoperability with the major networks built by America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and Yahoo Inc.

"It's the Holy Grail," Joe Wilcox, analyst for JupiterResearch, said of interoperability.

It's unlikely, however, that the granddaddy of IM, AOL, will open up its base of 41.6 million subscribers to competitors. In comparison, Yahoo, which has the second largest network, has less than half the subscribers of AIM at 19.1 million, according to web metrics firm ComScore Networks. MSN has 14.1 million subscribers.

"AOL isn't letting anybody into their network, if they don't have to," JupiterResearch analyst David Card said. "There's no incentive for AOL to cooperate with anyone."

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