RealTime IT News

AOL Offers Sense of Presence

AOL announced AIM Presence, a service that lets bloggers, podcasters, consumers and small businesses add presence information and one-click access to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) to their Web sites.

The free program, announced on Thursday and to be demonstrated at the Web 2.0 Conference, includes a free distribution license. Publishers and service providers can add AIM Presence by cutting and pasting a line of HTML code into their Web pages.

The idea is to let visitors to a site or blog see whether the proprietor or editor is available for messaging. For example, visitors to a plumber's Web site could tell whether he or she could answer a quick question or schedule a job via AIM.

When the proprietor is online, the AOL "running man" icon is bright; when he or she is offline, the icon is dull. In order to message the site's proprietor, the visitor also will need to be a registered AIM user.

Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AIM and ICQ, said AOL Presence would help Web publishers and bloggers differentiate their sites and help visitors become more engaged.

Also on Thursday, AOL announced new "AIM-enabled communities," including Facebook, LinkedIn, SixApart and Glam.com.

"These landmark relationships really kick it off for us," said Palihapitiya. "We're getting as many leading Web sites to integrate AIM into their services as possible."

LinkedIn is a business-networking site and will be the preferred provider of business profiles for the AIM service, while AOL will be the sole provider of instant messaging services for LinkedIn.

LinkedIn co-founder and vice president of marketing Konstantin Guericke said that the company already powers the profiles of many alumni and trade associations, as well as rosters of conference attendees. "Our company strategy is to look at all the places where people store their information and allow them to link to that information," Guericke said.

AOL is another place where people fill out profiles, according to Guericke, and the partnership will enable business users to quickly attach the profiles to their AIM identities.

"People using the AIM service will be able to enter their LinkedIn IDs, and it will pull a summary of their profile information into AIM," he said. Users will also be able to instantly invite contacts from their AIM buddy lists to connect on LinkedIn.

Guericke wouldn't disclose the terms of the deal, but he said it could help LinkedIn's bottom line by expanding use of the social networking service, including subscriptions to its premium services.

He said the integration is part of a trend of mixing services from different providers to satisfy the needs of individual users. For example, another partnership with job search site SimplyHired lets job seekers click on a button within a job listing to see if anyone in their LinkedIn network is connected to the hiring company.

"Our vision is that LinkedIn is a network with two things -- the profile and the relationship information -- but it doesn't have to be the destination site where people go to get that information," Guericke said.

Facebook is an online directory focused on connecting people through their social networks at high schools, universities and colleges. It will incorporate the AIM service into users' profile pages, so that users can see whether others are online and initiate IM sessions from within the service.

Glam.com is a new shopping site focused on women's fashion and accessories. Users can add their AIM screen names to their Glam profiles, in order to connect with buddies also on the site via text, voice or video. Glam will add an "IM this" button to its pages, so shoppers can quickly share product links with friends.

At the same time, Six Apart, a provider of blogging tools and hosted blogging services, will offer its bloggers the ability to share their AIM presence information on their blogs.

"You may know people through a relationship other than their AOL screen names," Palihapitiya said. "Now, in all of these instances, you can use AIM to instantly connect."