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.

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