AOL, WebEx AIM At The Office

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A collaboration between AOL and online meeting facilitator WebEx plan to offer a business version of AIM to enterprise customers on a subscription basis.

The growing popularity of instant messaging has spread to businesses, where many require certain levels of security and functionality that are not always available in freely distributed IM services.

An agreement between AIM provider AOL and WebEx will focus on delivering an AIM Pro service, several sources including Red Herring reported. For existing AIM users who choose to upgrade to one of two subscription-based versions of AIM Pro, their existing screen names will be supported and the ads removed from the software.

Pricing has not been disclosed yet for AIM Pro. The service should become available in the second quarter of this year. Customer can select a professional edition, aimed at individuals or small-to-medium businesses, or an enterprise edition that is targeted for bigger organizations.

Along with text chat, users will have access to audio and video chat functions. Web collaboration features familiar to WebEx users will be available in AIM Pro.

Instant messaging has made inroads into a lot of businesses via the free chat clients from AIM, along with competing options from Yahoo, MSN, and now Google. By offering a more secure service, with a customizable interface, the partnership could convince some of those free AIM users that the features available from WebEx via AIM Pro deliver greater value for business use.

There are a lot of users in the business world to attract. One report from IDC claimed the millions of business IM users send a billion IMs each day. The market for spending on IM by businesses could top $736 million worldwide in three years.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

AOL, WebEx AIM At The Office
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