AOL Joins WebEx to Launch 'AIM Pro'

AOL is linking up with WebEx Communications to develop a new instant messaging client that integrates collaborative business functionality such as online meetings and live demonstrations. Code-named "AIM Pro," the software will come in two versions: one for small to mid-sized businesses and one for enterprises.

AIM Pro builds upon the same code base found in AOL's new Triton, but sports a streamlined user interface designed for business environments. A company spokesperson said that AIM Pro will become the recommended client for business users, while Triton remains consumer oriented.

AOL hopes to ride the growing wave of instant messaging among corporate users. According to a recent survey by The Radicati Group, IM has become a key collaboration tool for 135 million workers, with usage expected to soar to over 477 million by 2009.

WebEx will also help AOL establish AIM as strong platform for businesses at a time when it faces tough competition. Web conferencing software from WebEx has become a primary way for companies to demonstrate their solutions and connect with mobile and remote workers.

Microsoft is making its own inroads into enterprise messaging with the recent launch of Office Communicator, which integrates voice, video and text messaging into a single client. A mobile and Web based version of the software recently debuted for mobile devices like smartphones.

AIM Pro will deliver added security over Triton, along with the voice and video capabilities offered by the WebEx MediaTone Network. The software will connect with AOL AIM, ICQ and Apple iChat users, as well as business-oriented IM clients through the AIM Clearinghouse service.

"Co-created with the recognized business collaboration leader, the new service will bring business-class IM, online conferencing, collaboration, desktop sharing and advanced multimedia services to the global workplace," commented Brian Curry, vice president of AOL's Premium and Subscription Services.

Pricing for the software and services were not yet announced. AOL expects to launch the final product in the second quarter of 2006.

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