Beta testers for Microsoft's MSN Messenger software are being asked to trial the new direction for MSN Messenger. When Microsoft launch MSN Messenger 7, the program will come with options that are only available to paying customers.
Microsoft, along with a company called Blue Mountain®, are offering users the opportunity to purchase "Emoticons, Backgrounds, and Display Pictures" for MSN Messenger. The service, when launched, will allow users to pay for the items via their mobile phone. Allowing users to pay in this manner lets the "mobile phone" youth market, arguably the core of MSN Messenger users, to use the service without need for a credit card.
MSN Messenger presents a problem for Microsoft in that they need to find an effective way to commercialise the product. Adverts at the bottom of the main window are un-liked (and un-noticed) by users, and probably don't see much revenue - a recent beta survey for MSN Messenger asked a question along the lines of "would you pay for the removal of ads" – highlighting the low value placed on them. Ironically, Microsoft could probably make more money from charging users to remove the adverts than they could from actual advert revenue.
Offering these customizations for a price represents a good business move for Microsoft in terms of making more money from the MSN business unit. However, how many people would be interested in purchasing the products is very debatable, as many of the services being offered are available in one form or another for free.
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