AOL Takes AIM at Outlook
America Onlines yellow Running Man wants to leave his footprints all over Microsoft Outlooks turf.
In partnership with Intellisync Corp., based in San Jose, Calif., America Online Inc. on Monday rolled out a beta of AIM Sync, a tool that effectively turns the Outlook e-mail client into a massive Buddy List.
With AIM Sync, AOL adds presence awareness to Outlook by allowing users to see a contacts availability when users address a new e-mail in Outlook.
The software embeds the AOL Running Man icon into the "To" field next to the e-mail address.
The beta program also gives Outlook users one-click access to add contacts from Outlook to the AOL Instant Messenger Buddy List.
Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ services, told eWEEK.com the AIM Sync service provides a temporary fix for the Buddy List overload problem experienced by business users.
AOL places a cap on the number of buddies that can be added to the AIM application, but with AIM Sync, the service turns Outlook into a giant Buddy List, Palihapitiya said.
"Going forward, were investigating the ability to increase the screen name limit. Were now doing the work to figure out what we need to do to expand that limit beyond 200 buddies," he said.
Palihapitiya said a possible Buddy List limit upgrade would be free for all users but hinted that a paid version of AIM isnt out of the question.
"For instance, there may come a time when we cant support sending games down to everyone for free because its cost-prohibitive to do that. Where we can rationalize it from a cost perspective, well make it free for the broad user base, but if we cant, we may have to start charging for certain things," Palihapitiya added.
America Online also announced a deal with Thomson Financial to embed AIM into the Thomson ONE desktop application. The integration is powered by IMlogic Inc. and will allow direct negotiation of price and quantity between buy-side traders and brokers via AIM.
Similar integration deals were also announced with CareerBuilder Inc. and Ruckus Network Inc.
CareerBuilder plans to enable AIM users to register their AIM screen names in connection with the resumes they have submitted or posted for review, while Ruckus Network will embed the AIM service across its online community services.
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