Reuters has launched its long-anticipated instant messaging service, part of a sustained effort by the news and information group to provide dealing room terminal subscribers with more value added services and claw back market share lost to high-flying rival Bloomberg.
The Reuters Messaging service has been developed in association with Microsoft and 25 financial institution clients. Its launch comes at a critical time for Reuters, as the company struggles to prop up its ailing share price and stem defections to rival market data vendor Bloomberg.
Analysts at UBS Warburg last week sent Reuters' shares spinning to an eleven-year low, warning of structural defects in the company's business model and pointing to the ascendancy of Bloomberg in the market for premium subscription-based news. The broker gives Bloomberg a 40% revenue share lead in the delivery of information services to bank trading rooms, with Reuters' trailing on 32%.
Reuters has identified Bloomberg Mail - an instant messaging service which is popular among traders for the spread of news and gossip - as a critical fixture in the success of the $1300-a-month Bloomberg terminal. Reuters has carefully structured its own offering to appeal to the estimated 55,000 Mail users, making the service available stand-alone or integrated into current products such as the flagship 3000 Xtra equities terminal, Reuters Plus and BridgeStation.
Unlike the proprietary Bloomberg terminal, Reuters Messaging has been developed using Session Initiation Protocol based technology making compatibility and integration with customers own systems and third-party messaging services possible.
Reuters claims to have 1100 companies already signed up and is aiming to connect 175,000 users by year-end 2002. The package, which is provided free-of-charge for the basic service, uses industry-standard SSL encryption and has facilities for creating audit trails for compliance purposes. Clients must pay for the licences for the operating system and any SQL based database they use for their proxy and content logging service.
Russ Goring, chief technology officer at trial user Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein comments: "Instant messaging is an increasingly important part of the connect between us and our clients. It allows us to work together with our clients online in real time, across different locations and time zones in a seamless manner. This new Reuters service is a very important part of our client communication strategy."