AOL Refocuses AIM on Web Content

America Online launched a new version of the AOL Instant Messenger Web site and a revamped AIM Today screen on Wednesday, focusing on making more of AOL's content easily accessible to the company's AIM users.

AOL has also begun to roll out a new version of AIM 5.9 that notably adds AOL Explorer as part of the download. The IE-based browser features tabs and easy access to AOL services including the new and AIM Mail without taking over the user's default browser.

When installed, AOL Explorer also replaces the standard AIM Today with a more functional window.

"AIM and AIM Mail users are incredibly connected and like to multi-task," Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president of AIM and ICQ said in prepared remarks. The moves are part of an ongoing shift at AOL to open its content and services to users that are not full-fledged AOL members, such as its IM users.

The new AIM Web site will allow visitors to download desktop and mobile versions the software, as well as beta test AOL's new Triton IM client. Access to AIM Mail, Games, and the company's new blogging AIM Blogs service will also be accessible from the site.

AIM Today's new look will feature more content from AOL and its third-party providers, enhanced search functions, and a feature that will highlight popular subjects on the Internet and across the "blogosphere."

More exposed content also means more advertising for AOL, which is courting companies to showcase their products and services on AIM Today and Facing declining subscriber numbers, AOL has turned to the resurgent Web advertising market for new sources of income.

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