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AOL Extends Mobile Reach With MyMobile

AOL Tuesday unveiled the latest in a series of moves designed to expand its presence on mobile devices. At the giant CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, AOL released a beta of its AOL MyMobile all-in-one set of applications and detailed expanded developer support for the Open Mobile Platform initiative it announced in February.

MyMobile is an interactive suite of services designed for mobile devices. AOL said today's beta release of MyMobile for Windows Mobile devices and available for free download, provides access to the Web company's most popular services including AIM instant messenger, AOL Mail, AOL CityGuide, Moviefone, MapQuest, AOL Local Search, AOL News, Weather, AOL Sports and AOL Pictures.

Although it's a beta version, Raine Bergstrom, AOL's vice president of product management, said MyMobile is a very solid release that has already been through a private beta phase. "The bar is a lot higher on a mobile device, we don't want anything crashing," Bergstrom told InternetNews.com.

Bergstrom said integration of the services is a key feature of MyMobile. "It works great with client software, so you can find the movie or restaurant you want to go to, get a map and e-mail it all in one thread," he said.

MyMobile uses simple drop-down lists and "intuitive menus" designed to help users easily scroll through applications and content they need. The software also remembers user favorites and recent requests. User can also access saved directions, search results, restaurant details and other information when the device is offline or out of a coverage area.

AOL said MyMobile was built using Action Engine's on-device portal technology and can be downloaded by entering "http://wap.aol.com/mymobile" into a phone's browser, then selecting "Get AOL MyMobile BETA".

Separately, but also at CTIA, AOL is previewing a version of its AOL Mobile Search designed specifically for Apple's iPhone and its Safari browser. A beta is set to be available in a few weeks. Starting today, AOL said a new AOL Mobile Search icon is available to BlackBerry users.

Another new AOL service, called AIM TXT, gives a wide variety of cell phone users AIM instant messaging functionality through text messaging.

Who's onboard the Open Mobile Platform?

AOL also announced five developers are building "a new breed of wireless applications" using the company's Open Mobile Platform (OMP).

Action Engine, Aricent, Infosys, Obopay and ShoZu - have signed on as early supporters of OMP. Announced in February, AOL said OMP will be widely available this summer and offer access to the tools and source code needed to build and distribute applications across all major mobile device platforms and operating systems including BREW, Java, Linux, RIM, Symbian and Windows Mobile.

While there's been no official announcement, Bergstrom said developers may well be able to use OMP tools in the future to reach other operating systems. "There's no reason you couldn't have Android or iPhone support, though we don't offer that yet," he said.

"This is really the thin client model where applications can be changed or updated as needed," he added. "Today, if you have a problem with a mobile app, on most phones you have to delete it, so this is great."