Since AOL's Instant Messenger has been available for iPhone and iPod touch since the launch of the App Store, there has been a lot of chatter about the availability of clients for other IM networks, such as Yahoo! and Windows Live, for the iPhone - or, more accurately, the lack thereof. However, with the release of Palringo Instant Messenger for iPhone and iPod touch, that lack of availability has finally ended... sort of.
Palringo is free, and it enables you to simultaneously access IM accounts on AIM, Windows Live (MSN), Yahoo!, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, and more. The catch is that you can't just download the app and immediately sign into these services directly - you first have to sign up for a Palringo account. (Pauses to listen to loud groans.)
It's not as bad as it sounds. Palringo accounts are free and don't require you to provide very much info to sign up. Some users have expressed privacy concerns about the fact that all of their IM data will be transmitted through Palringo's network, but considering your conversations could just as easily be getting monitored already by Yahoo!, Microsoft, or possibly the governments of the USA and Pakistan, I don't think this is a fundamental change in the level of security you should expect (or not expect) from IM services.
The one other possible disadvantage is that Palringo could someday start charging people to use their service, so let's hope that if that ever happens, more IM clients will be available for iPhone before then.
To download Palringo for iPhone, visit the App Store here. Clients for their service are also available for Mac OS X and Windows.
Medium-warm on the heels of Palringo, Twenty08 has released MobileChat for iPhone and iPod touch, supporting AIM, Yahoo, Windows Live, and other IM services.
MobileChat does not require you to explicitly sign up for a third-party service, but connections still run through the company's own proxy server rather than connecting to the IM services directly. Unlike Palringo, MobileChat is also not free, priced at $2.99 instead. At this time, I do not have sufficient experience with either program to declare one of them the "winner."
-------------------- Chief iPod Correspondent
Senior Time Waster
Captain of the Planet Express
Assistant Jedi Librarian