AOL To Offer Internet Phone Service
The new service, AIM Talk Plus, which will allow for computer-to-phone calling, is slated for release in November. The current VoIP function on AIM and AIM Triton, AIM Talk, allows only for computer-to-computer calls.
AOL's announcement comes less than a month after search giant Google released a combined instant messaging and VoIP program--Google Talk. AOL's portal competitors, MSN and Yahoo!, both offer VoIP functionality similar to the current version of AIM Talk in their current messaging clients.
AOL's AIM program is the market leader in the instant messaging space, with 30.9 million visitors in July; additionally, 23 million AOL users use the proprietary service for AOL members only, according to comScore Media Metrix. MSN's Messenger trails with 23.2 million visitors in July, followed by Yahoo! Messenger, which drew 21.6 million, according to comScore.
In October, AOL will also release a full VoIP phone service, dubbed TotalTalk, which allows users to get their home phones connected through AOL. No AOL subscription is necessary for the service, and the service will offer standard phone features like caller ID, call waiting, and voice mail--along with more unusual features such as integrated voice mail and e-mail, and the ability to check voice mail messages with a Web browser.
Other Internet companies have been getting into the VoIP act as well. Online auction house eBay this month announced a deal to purchase VoIP firm Skype for between $2.6 and $4.1 billion.