Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Fortune: Who owns your address book?

Here's a fascinating look into the issues of data portability, with a surprising tie-in to Microsoft's public instant messaging network.

An article over on Fortune describes about the experience I'm sure we've all gone through at least once, if not many times by now, where a site like Facebook or LinkedIn offers to import your contacts from your personal address book.  It seems like Microsoft isn't so keen on letting you access your contacts, or is looking for a quid pro quo from such sites in return:

But Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), while publicly embracing the idea of openness, has been saying something different behind the scenes. Since last summer, lawyers representing the company have been sending cease-and-desist letters to startups that offer new users the ability to import their Microsoft Hotmail contacts. In a move that Valley guys are deriding as ham-handed, Microsoft is offering a quid pro quo: Third-party sites can access Hotmail contacts if they make Microsoft's instant-messaging client available to their users - for 25 cents per user per year. Then the company says it will waive the fee if the sites make Messenger the exclusive in-network messaging client. Such a deal.

Link:  Who owns your address book?