Yahoo Business Messenger included features not available with Yahoo's free IM, such as message encryption, message archiving, 24-hour customer support, and online meeting software. Business Messenger sold on a yearly subscription for about $30 per individual user.
Research firm IDC estimated that as many as 255 million people will use IM at work in 2005, up from 65 million in 2002. But the vast majority of workers use free systems available from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo or rivals, including America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
AOL announced new online meeting and voice conferencing features for its IM service last week, an effort to increase use among desk workers. Of roughly 36 million active users of AOL's free IM service, about 15 million use it at work.