AOL AIMs For VoIP Market

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As AOL loses subscribers by the boatload, the company says it’s on “offense” as it plans to launch a VoIP feature for it’s 41 million member strong AIM instant messaging service.

The Phoneline service, reports the New York Times, to be introduced on May 16, will allow AIM members to attach a phone number to their accounts. The free phone number gives members the ability to call each other through headsets or PC microphones as long as both are logged in.

Mobile and landlines can also reach a logged on AIM member or it can be set up to take voicemail and notify a member’s mobile phone.

“Our strategy is to protect and extend our instant messaging business,” AOL executive vice president for programming and products James P. Bankoff told the NYT. “You have to play offense.”

The company plans to offer an unlimited version for $14.95 a month. The fee wins unlimited local and long distance calls in the US and abroad. Early signups can get the service for $9.95.

The buzz is getting around the Net, as bloggers and writers are already calling the new service a “Skype killer.”

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