AOL, Plaxo Forge Contact Management Deal

AOL plans to build Plaxo's contact management service into its next-generation AIM client, while Plaxo gets ready to make AIM presence information more widely available.

In its continuing push to put AOL Instant Messenger service at the center of its communications strategy, America Online Inc. is adding contact management capabilities to AIM through a partnership with Plaxo Inc.

AOL and Plaxo Inc. on Wednesday announced that they are working together to integrate Plaxos ability to import, export and synchronize contacts with the upcoming revamp of the AIM client, code-named Triton.

The companies are also building presence information from AIM into the Plaxo service, including within the Plaxo plug-in for the Microsoft Outlook e-mail client.

The Plaxo integration initially will be available in a beta release of Triton, expected in late July or early August, said Chamath Palihapitiya, AOLs vice president and general manager for AIM and ICQ.

"Were bringing together our scale and our access in all the forms of communication we have with the Plaxo contact management solution so users can stay connected," Palihapitiya said.

With the Plaxo integration, both AOL members and AIM users will be able to retrieve contacts from Outlook and Outlook Express address books as well as address books from Web-based e-mail services to synchronize them with their AOL and AIM e-mail contacts, the companies announced. AIM users also will be able to add contacts to their AIM buddy lists.

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Plaxos contact management abilities are important to AOL as AIM increasingly brings together multiple forms of communications, not just instant messaging, Palihapitiya said. Dulles, Va.-based AOL already has begun tying in voice over IP, video chat and mobile messaging with AIM.

Plaxo, of Mountain View, Calif., is extending AIM presence information to its service. Along with AIM screen names appearing in Plaxo and Outlook "v-cards," an indicator that AIM members are online will appear in e-mail headers and contact lists.

"People dont want Plaxo as a stand-alone Web site, but they want it where theyre doing the management of address books and calendar," said Ben Golub, Plaxos CEO.

Plaxos relationship with AOL is not exclusive, so the company could create deals with other IM providers, Golub said.

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