AOL Adopts Macro View Of Instant Messaging, Deal Enables Flash
The partnership opens the door for hundreds of thousands of Macromedia Flash developers to build applications that take advantage of instant messaging features found in AOL's AIM and ICQ services. Both companies will be working together to integrate AIM and ICQ into Macromedia's Macromedia Central service.
Macromedia Central is a personal interface that can be downloaded and customized based on the information the user supplies it with and the context he/she wishes to use it for. Essentially, Central provides users with a real-time, multi-application, seamless environment. Regardless of whether users are online or off, Central allows them to access, filter, interpret content, and share data.
Under terms of the licensing agreement, the software development kits (SDK) for both AIM and ICQ will be made available to Central developers early next year. The SDKs will contain application programming interfaces and development tools for the AOL Instant Messenger platform, enabling developers to add all the necessary interactive audio/video elements and any other fireworks they can think of. While a certain amount of leeway will be extended to developers, an AOL spokesperson added that they are very sensitive to how they utilize AIM, and will be sure to maintain brand image and security.
Macromedia is the third largest online development company, behind Microsoft and Java. With AIM's reach of over a billion messages a day and 50 million active users each month, Macromedia's software developers will be licking their chops over this new opportunity.
"Our relationship with AOL," says Kevin Lynch, chief software architect for Macromedia, "provides a wonderful foundation for Central developers to build a wide variety of presence-enabled, social applications for AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ with the great user experience and responsiveness of Macromedia Flash."
Edmund Fish, senior vice president and general manager, AOL Desktop Messaging, adds that a Flash-enabled AIM experience is a compelling prospect for businesses and consumers alike. "Instant messaging isn't just a 'killer app' for the Internet, it's also a set of capabilities, such as online presence, that can dramatically enhance many business and consumer software experiences," he says, adding, "We've taken the step of putting these capabilities into an easy-to-use software developer's kit so that, together with the flexibility and richness of Macromedia Central, developers will have a whole new way to bring richness to group interaction and online communication."
Aside from the expected the AIM and ICQ software development, the partnership's principal aim is to turn AIM into a distribution channel for Macromedia Central and visa versa, according to Derick Mains, spokesperson for AOL. He adds that the programs will remain separate entities and that no overhaul for the AIM service is currently planned, but with the addition of Macromedia technology, this may be a possibility for the future.