Bebo Teams With Microsoft For IM
Going one step further, Bebo and Windows Live will be synchronized to allow users of other services to exchange contact information and communicate.
Bebo users with Windows Live Messenger will add an "IM Me" icon, which will appear on their profile page. In displaying their presence, all Bebo users--regardless of whether they have a Windows Live ID or not--will be able to initiate an IM conversation.
Bebo users, however, will not be able to send instant messages to Windows Live Messenger users who do not have Bebo accounts, and Windows Live Messenger users will not be able to see if their buddies are logged on to Bebo.
Company executives pointed to the wide breadth of both Bebo and Windows Live.
"The global nature of both the Windows Live Messenger service and Bebo makes this relationship a perfect fit," said Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live.
While the San Francisco-based Bebo lags significantly behind social-network leaders like MySpace and Facebook, its base is firmly cemented in Europe. Indeed, in the first half of the year, Bebo vaulted past MySpace to become the most visited social site in the U.K. Bebo's U.K. traffic increased 63%, to 10.6 million unique visitors, from January to June, according to comScore. MySpace's traffic increased 25% during the same period, to 10.1 million unique visitors. Still, the fastest-growing social networking site in the U.K. was Facebook, up 366% to 7.6 million uniques. In the U.S., Bebo has about a third as many visitors as both MySpace and Facebook.
As a free download, Windows Live Messenger is available in 26 languages, and is presently used in over 60 countries by some 280 million active users each month.
Yahoo was said to be courting Bebo earlier this year for $1 billion--the same amount it was reportedly willing to pay for Facebook last year.
The social network site also plans to incorporate Microsoft's address book management tools. In addition, the partnership includes the use of the Windows Live Contacts API. This API provides users with the ability to freely import and export their contacts and relationships between the services, ultimately giving them the choice as to where and how they wish to use their social network.
Along with Bebo, other early adopters of Microsoft's Web services include Match.com and Msnbc.com.