I surprised myself with a quick game of www.aimfight.com. www.aimfight.com is a neat tool for showing exactly how powerful instant messaging is in America. The idea of the game is to test one AIM user versus another. The score? The sum of how many of user A's buddies, buddies buddies are online, versus the sum of three degree's of user B's.

Try it, it's fun.

I learned something really important the other day. IM is a vital communications tool for young people. So, here's the score of a recent AIM Fight I did with my family:

Peter – 6,487
David, age 17 – 34,428
Maggie, age 21 – 25,356
Tina, age 19 – 22,736
Paul, age 15 – 120
Anne, my wife – 146

So, my teenage kids have IM networks on average three times bigger than my biggest network. My network varies by time of day, which of course, stands to reason, since I use it for business (and my contacts probably use it for business too). It is largest during the day, and shrinks to about half that size at night, which is where my kids' network is at their largest.

This little game made me think about the prospects for an AIM-only handheld device. I've seen David, the king of the family AIMFight spend lots of time doing IM with his mobile phone. In fact, he spends more time doing SMS than phone calls. Would teens want an inexpensive SMS or IM-only portable device?

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