Bubble bursts for instant messaging

The online instant messaging craze is all but over, according to new figures which suggest that internet users prefer to spend time on social networking sites.

Research from Nielsen Online shows that the amount of time spent on sites such as MSN Messenger has dipped by a billion minutes in the past year to 2.9bn minutes.

Instead, internet users are migrating to social networks, including Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, to contact their friends in real-time.

The amount of time spent on social networking sites and blogs has increased by 1.3bn minutes over the last year to a total of 3.7bn minutes.

‘This illustrates how social networks have fundamentally altered the way people communicated online,' said Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen Online.

Facebook is currently attempting to take on AOL and Microsoft with its own instant messaging service. The application allows chats to take place between individual social network users, but does not support chats between multiple friends, or with web users who do not have a Facebook account.

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