A significant instant messaging project between Google Inc. and America Online is now underway.
Google and AOL plan to let their respective instant messaging features communicate. This way, someone using Google Talk could chat with an AIM user, and vice versa.
The integration pact was announced Tuesday as part of a larger deal.
As previously reported, Google now owns a 5 percent stake of AOL, and has also extended an important advertising relationship with AOL for another five years.
The new IM partnership takes on significance because of who AOL did not partner with, namely Yahoo Inc. or Microsofts MSN, the two other top IM makers.
The apparent underlying message is that the three sides still dont yet see eye-to-eye on the complex business and technological arrangements necessary for integration.
In October, Yahoo Inc. and Microsofts MSN online unit began work to break down a decade-long barrier between users of their IM features.
The resulting integration, due out in the second quarter of next year, will give users of both services typical IM abilities: to tell when their friends are online, to share some emoticons, to put through free PC-to-PC phone calls and to easily add new contacts from either service to their friends list.
Since then, theres been speculation about whether AOL will be included in the Yahoo and Microsoft partnership.
But AOL has instead settled on an integration partnership with Google, whose Google Talk is not even a blip on the IM radar.
An AOL representative had no comment. Representatives from Google did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment for this story.
Integrating Google Talk and AIM will be done in a roundabout way, mostly to keep AOL and Google from exposing the valuable profile information customers must first provide to sign up.
In essence, the two IM networks will not be connected. Rather, Googles Google Talk users must first sign up for an AIM account and screen name. They can then carry on a conversation with an AIM user by using their Google IM desktop dashboard.