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Instant messaging isn't just for the kids. Set up properly, IM offers a reasonably secure and essentially free direct communications line to your people. The problem is there are way too many clients out there: AIM, Google Chat, MSN Messenger and many more.

San Francisco-based Beejive solves that by creating a single application that can run almost any IM chat software, on mobile devices including the iPhone and BlackBerry. What I like about BeeJive is how seriously they take the back end of supporting multiple IM clients. A clever central server caches messages to improve service connectivity, and lets users push documents and other big files down the system.

Sure, IM can be abused by chatty employees, but done right, Beejive offers small businesses a cheap, fast and effective means to communicate without so much phone chatter.

$16 at Apple's App Store

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LAST UPDATE: Jan 07 2009 | 12:23 PM ET
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