AOL is getting into instant messaging for business by launching a service this summer tentatively branded AIM Pro.
The application, developed in collaboration with communications software house WebEx, will come in two flavours: a professional edition for individuals and small firms; and an enterprise edition with centralised administrative controls for larger corporations.
"The new service will bring business-class IM, online conferencing, collaboration, desktop sharing and advanced multimedia services to the global workplace," said Brian Curry, vice president of premium and subscription services at AOL.
No pricing details have been released, but the company believes that demand is strong for a paid-for IM service.
Analyst firm Radicati Group has suggested that IM use in business is set to double over the next three years.
Although the AOL software will be able to communicate with existing AIM users, the corporate edition will allow videoconferencing via webcams and may also include a voice over IP element to allow calls between users.
"It would be a challenge to ask people to pay for an IM client when so many companies bundle it in free," said Canalys analyst Rachel Power. "AOL is not used that heavily in business as it is."
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