RealTime IT News

Out With The Old AIM, In With Triton

It text messages, launches phone calls via your broadband connection, enables video along with all that VoIP and keeps track of other important messaging info via SMS alerts.

Small wonder that AOL is calling its latest instant messaging client, AIM Triton, the new "front door" to digital communications. The latest version is live, as in out of beta, and looking to be a traffic cop that helps users manage all their communications applications in one place.

The biggest change with Triton for AOL subscribers is that it integrates the usual text messaging via IM with both the AOL and free AIM e-mail clients, provides SMS mobile messaging and integrates voice and video chat sessions.

Available at the AIM.com site, the new service is replacing all PC-based versions of AIM, provided the end-user is running Windows 2000 or XP.

Built on a new code base and modular software architecture, Triton is boasting improvements, such as tabs that provide users with one-click launches of phone calls, or the ability to access contacts via an integration deal with Plaxo, the Web-based contact software company.

Plaxo is well-known for its ability to integrate with other e-mail clients, such as Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo.

The Tabbed IMs feature also makes it easier to carry on multiple conversations simultaneously and lets users transition from desktop instant messaging to mobile text messaging, e-mail, voice or video chat with one click, AOL said.

AOL is playing up the Plaxo-enabled AIM address book, calling it an industry first. After all, AOL added, it helps enable AIM Triton users to one-click their way to any and all of the following: launching AOL's Explorer browser, starting up AOL's popular radio service, launching and sending e-mail, including free AIM Mail versions, as well as AOL's own TotalTalk VoIP service.

TotalTalk VoIP service integrates not only PC-to-PC calling, but enables calls from computers to landlines (PC-to-PSTN calling) or mobile phones.

Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager for AOL's AIM and ICQ groups, said the company rebuilt the AIM service from the ground up in its quest to improve the communications client.

"We anticipate that the AIM Triton service will accelerate the growing use of voice, video and desktop-to-mobile messaging across all users. And with the inclusion of our free AIM Mail product, we expect AIM to remain the most viral, social and popular communications application among the Internet generation."

Other new features include a file transfer service that is essentially drag-and-drop in order to make sharing easy.

The latest all-in-one communications manager could give AOL an opportunity to monetize its base of free ICQ and AIM users at a time when its dial-up customers are defecting to broadband providers via DSL or cable modems.

AOL pegs its AIM base alone, including users of the free download, at 41.6 million.

The Triton client arrives during nothing short of an IM "boomlet" with the online crowd, both in the business and consumer realms.

Research firm IDC expects the market for enterprise IM server software to grow from a $315 million market this year to $736 million by 2009. And this after sales of enterprise IM applications leapt by 37 percent from 2004, the research firm added.

All told, IDC counts some 28 million business users of IM alone.

AOL's own research showed that 58 percent of office workers recently polled use IM to communicate with colleagues.

And while the free version of AIM is prevalent in plenty of enterprises, it rules on the consumer side as well, as it is considered the No. 1 IM provider ahead of MSN and Yahoo.