"I'm" fad among Chinese MSN users

Updated: 2007-03-18 10:48

The promotion ad at Windows Live Messenger's official site. [dayoo.com]

It seems that almost all your friends' names on MSN have added a little green "i'm" symbol overnight. If you ask what is going on, someone will tell you it's a charity initiative and send you an intro link.

Though this charity program has not yet officially launched for Chinese users, this little green symbol has proven popular among chic Chinese Windows Live Messenger users.

Windows Live Messenger's official blog announced on March 1 that Microsoft was launching an "i'm" initiative program in United States. Every time someone starts a conversation using i'm, Microsoft shares a portion of the program's advertising revenue with nine organizations dedicated to social causes. With every instant message a user sends, it helps address issues one feels most passionate about, including poverty, child protection, disease and environmental degradation.

One only has to add certain codes next to one's names for the cause one would like to support. "*red'u" is for the American Red Cross, "*bqca" is for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and "*unicef" stands for the American branch of UNICEF.

After a Chinese blogger named "hung" introduced this program on his blog on March 2, "i'm" has invaded the Internet in China with no actual promotional campaign from Microsoft.

Beijing-based Youth Weekend reported that famous IT blogger Keso regarded this program's rapid spread as a successful virus marketing case. He thinks that the success of the "i'm" program is because it's spread by users without being a bother to others. This answers why "i'm" has spread so rapidly across the Internet like a virus with almost no promotion.

However, Feng Jinhu from the press company for Microsoft China told Youth Weekend that the "i'm" project is only eligible for Messenger users in United States. Instant messages sent by Chinese users would not count.

This has not affected Chinese Messenger users' passion for the little green symbol. It is fashionable to have an "i'm" next to one's name on Messenger. These users hope their instant messages will actually become donations to charitable organizations someday.

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