Flirting’s Moved Online! New Research From MSN Reveals Millions Swap IM Addresses With Potential Dates

REDMOND, Wash., July 8, 2004 — Flirting used to be something that happened primarily at bars, parties or the local Starbucks, but a new survey from MSN found that instant messaging (IM) is the choice of today’s Romeos, both in the United States and worldwide. More than 35 percent of Americans who responded to the survey say they’ve used Web-based services such as MSN®
Messenger to set up romantic dates, with 50 percent saying they have used it to get to know a potential partner early in a relationship. Worldwide, the numbers are even larger, with over 40 percent of respondents saying they have used IM to set up dates and nearly 58 percent saying they have used it to find out more about people they might like to date.

The research was carried out on MSN sites in 13 markets worldwide — including eight European countries, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico and the United States — and asked nearly 50,000 people about their use of IM services.

The survey turned up interesting information about the differences in the way men and women use the technology, showing that men are even more into online courting than women. The data showed that 38 percent of American men say they have used IM to flirt with a potential partner and 43 percent have used it to set up a date, as compared to 30 percent of American women who have used it for either purpose. The survey found that men use IM more than women for sending photos, discussing work and chatting up possible dates, while women use IM more than men for keeping in touch with family.

The results challenged the stereotype of the tech-obsessed geek and showed that Americans classified as frequent users of instant messaging programs are among the most sociable people around, with 61 percent going out with friends at least one a week. Frequent IM users also turned out to be the happiest of all groups of users, with 41 percent classifying themselves as very happy. In addition, they were most likely to consider themselves very attractive (24 percent). In both categories, this was a higher percentage than both the low IM users and the nonusers.

The survey also showed that while short messaging service (SMS) explodes in popularity around the world, IM continues to be the preferred method of instant communication in the United States, with 59 percent of American respondents saying that they used instant messaging more than text messaging via mobile phone. Only 12 percent of people said they used SMS more. IM services have become so popular that more than 2.5 billion messages are sent each day on MSN Messenger alone worldwide. In fact, if the 130 million MSN Messenger customers* formed a country, it would almost equal the population of Japan, the 10th-largest country in the world.

“It makes sense that the more ways people have to communicate, the more likely they are to find that special someone,” said Amy Jo Kim, author of “Community Building on the Web” and consultant to Fortune 500 companies on how to build online social networks. “IM is such a great way to keep in touch with friends that it makes perfect sense that heavy users would go out more often. One particularly interesting aspect of IM is that people can personalize their IM with things like emoticons, picture tiles and more. Because when you’re flirting online, it’s not always just what you say that matters!”

Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN, said, “We’ve designed MSN Messenger not only to help our customers worldwide communicate, but also to enable them to share experiences and do things with their friends online — like play games or share photos. ‘Dating’ may have not been in the original product plan, but it’s no surprise that IM is a great way to bond online with family and friends.”

MSN Messenger is a free Web-based service that allows users to chat in real time with other users worldwide whom they have agreed to add to their list of contacts. It is available for download from local MSN sites (e.g., ).

About the MSN Survey

The data used for the survey was collected from users via their local MSN site during April and May 2004 in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The total number of valid responses worldwide was 49,391. A total of 3,191 valid responses were gathered in the United States.

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 350 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 38 markets and 18 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at . MSN worldwide sites are located at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* MSN internal data

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