Dissecting the ChatRoom

June 23, 2003

in Brand Futures, Chat & IM, Social Software

How does one think through new product development for chat? Last October I found this an intriguing question and with a little help developed the exploratory framework below.  Today it is perhaps more relevant to the learning required to enhance collaboration with emerging social software. The target of this chat exploration was focused on determining the consumer frameworks to aid decision-making.


I really appreciated the recent comments to the buddy list envy.  So it seemed natural to step from IM to CHAT.  May also open up some thoughts on IM. Afterall an exercise like this could similarly apply to IM.


Visit chatrooms and one soon realizes how dynamic the conversation is, even if you don’t fit in. While many may delight in referring to chatrooms as a waste of time, I have a feeling that they are an emerging world. Perhaps fantasy or a warped reality, yet lump them with broader collaboration tools and new avenues open up for exploration.


So in this post I’m purposely sharing some diagrams (click to expand), without all the words.   Last October when these were done I thought there may be a mulit-client possible in this area.  (There still is – or could be.  I’d be delighted to do it! I’d add this is all inferred it’s not from a statistical sample or at an x% confidence level.).


For others the model and segment names will either provide the justification or a few laughs. 


Why do this? What research objectives might you consider? (From a chat perspective).



  • To provide a dynamic framework for understand the chat /IM market, and the various need segments within it.
  • To determine the relative strengths of the various brands, how they are positioned within the market, and how they are positioned to satisfy the needs fo the various segments within it.
  • To identify what opportunities exist in the chat market for new brands / products (Use this for collaboration building, not necessary to restrict it to MSN/AOL and Yahoo!)

Chat is to the digiworld, like the street, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, diners, bingo halls, and the PTA meeting is to the physical world. It why I’m sharing a model with you that draws on my food and beer days.  (This is adapted from the Heylen Model for those in research)


Why is chat interesting



  • Rapid expansion is reaching critical mass. Like IM – CHAT skews younger.

    • Instant messaging: 59 percent of those aged 19 to 34, compared to 49 percent of those aged 35 to 54, and 45 percent of those 55 and over.
    • Chat: 47 percent of those aged 19 to 34; 37 percent of those aged 35 to 54; 31 percent of those 55 and over.

  • Access new business opportunities – growing corporate interest
  • Service not yet a money spinner — new entrants
  • Rapidly increasing functionality around voice, video and mobility

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