AOL, AT&T Announce Integrated Mobile AIM

From AOL’s press release:

America Online Inc., and AT&T Wireless today announced the availability of new mobile instant messaging services that streamline the wireless instant messaging experience. An embedded version of the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service is now prominently featured on the main menu screen of select AT&T Wireless phones, bringing the power of instant messaging to the foreground of wireless.

AT&T Wireless customers can already access AOL services via SMS text messaging or the company’s mMode service. This will be the first time that AIM will be embedded on select AT&T Wireless phones, just as the phonebook and text messaging features are today. Wireless customers can now use their phones to easily stay in touch with their online AIM and/or AOL buddies, see which buddies are logged in when sending instant messages, and conduct real-time IM chats.

“Given the huge success of AOL Mail and AIM on mMode, we are excited to expand our relationship with AT&T Wireless and offer subscribers new and exciting mobile instant messaging services from AOL,” said Bill Schwebel, Vice President and General Manager, AOL Mobile, America Online Inc. “These new mobile instant messaging services provide added convenience to AT&T Wireless subscribers, allowing them the ability to stay in close touch with friends, family and co-workers while on-the-go.”

“With this feature, instant messaging on wireless phones will finally be as simple as sending a text message,” said Glenice Maclellan, vice president of messaging services at AT&T Wireless. “Together, America Online and AT&T Wireless are making it faster and easier for users to stay connected to their IM communities, which we expect will drive further adoption of wireless IM services. We believe that customers will choose to use some combination of text messaging, instant messaging, picture messaging, and wireless email based on individual needs and preferences,” said Maclellan.

In addition to the built-in versions of the AIM and ICQ services, the IM-To-Text feature available on AT&T Wireless phones lets AOL members and registered users of the AIM service send instant messages directly from their desktop computers to AT&T Wireless customers simply by addressing the IM to the phone number of the person they want to reach. In turn, AT&T Wireless subscribers can respond to incoming messages from their phones – even if they don’t have an AIM or AOL screen name. With AOL’s IM Forwarding feature, subscribers also can forward incoming instant messages to their mobile phones through the desktop settings of their AIM and ICQ service, ensuring that their IMs follow them wherever they go.

At launch, the embedded instant messaging feature is available on Nokia 3100 and 3200 handsets. IM-To-Text and IM Forwarding are available on all AT&T Wireless two-way text messaging capable phones. Additional instant messaging-enabled wireless phones will be rolled out throughout the year. Instant messages cost $.10 each to send; all instant messages received are free of charge. Only AT&T Wireless offers unlimited incoming messages free of charge.

The new instant messaging software clients are based on the Wireless Village open standard for mobile instant messaging and presence services, which are used to exchange messages and presence information between mobile devices and Internet-based instant messaging services. The Wireless Village initiative lets device manufacturers such as Nokia develop wireless applications based upon a single standard, allowing wireless providers such as AT&T Wireless tools needed to deploy messaging and other applications in a quick and cost-effective manner.