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AOL Offers AIM License To Bloggers, Podcasters

Called AIM Presence, the new program includes a distribution license at no charge and the HTML code to paste AIM into a Web page to launch the instant messaging service.
America Online Inc. on Thursday started offering at no charge a license that allows non-commercial use of its popular instant messaging service, a move meant to attract bloggers, podcasters and other Web site operators.

In addition, the Dulles, Va., company also announced several new commercial users of AOL Instant Messaging, including social networks Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Corp. and Six Apart Inc.; and fashion and e-commerce site Glam.com Inc.

Under the non-commercial license, bloggers, podcasters and others can add to their sites an icon link indicating whether they are online and available through AIM. Called AIM Presence, the new program includes a distribution license at no charge and the HTML code to paste into a Web page in order to launch the instant messaging service.

Communication would only be possible between AIM subscribers.

Podcasting in which people and media organizations make audio files of programming available for downloading onto a portable media player is a phenomenon on the web that started about a year ago. Since then, thousands of podcasts have been made available with content ranging from comedy and talk to music and drama.

The use of blogs has also grown steadily. In the first quarter of the year, 50 million people in the United States visited blogs, which amounted to 30 percent of the total online population, according to Web metrics firm ComScore Networks. Fully 45 percent more people visited blogs in the first quarter than in the same period a year ago.

In the new commercial deals, subscribers of the social networks would have the option of making themselves available through AIM. People would also have the option of turning off the service.

"In all cases, (partners) have to get permission from end users before they can show their presence through AIM," Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AIM, said.

With 73 million subscribers worldwide, including 41.7 million in the United States, AIM has become a strong advertising channel for AOL. By promoting commercial and non-commercial use of AIM, AOL is looking to extend the service's reach further.

"With more usage, we can be more effective on behalf of advertisers," Palihapitiya said.

For LinkedIn, AIM is expected to add one more communication tool, Konstantin Guericke, co-founder and vice president of marketing for the Palo Alto, Calif., company said. The LinkedIn network is only for people looking to make contacts within the business community.

In addtion, LinkedIn subscribers can publish their business profiles on AIM as a kind of electronic business card, Guericke said, noting that AIM is popular among professionals in certain industries, particularly in technology, financial services and management consulting.

"We see enough of an overlap to add some value to our user base," Guericke said.

LinkedIn, which claims to have 3.8 million subscribers, makes money by selling subscriptions to premium services, such as the ability to post job openings and search the network for business contacts or for references on potential partners.

AOL, a division of Time Warner Inc., would not disclose projections on expected higher use of AIM through its presence program.