AOL takes AIM and shoots for new features

America Online unveils Triton, an instant-messaging service with SMS mobile text messaging, voice and video chat.

America Online has unveiled a new version of its instant messaging service, as the Internet service provider seeks to stem the tide of defecting customers.

AIM Triton, announced Tuesday, is designed to serve as an integrated communications hub for AOL users, the company said. The new service offers IM, e-mail, SMS mobile text messaging, voice and video chat, as well as an online address book from Plaxo. The Plaxo service will display a snapshot of information on up to 5,000 contacts listed on a user's AIM "buddy" list.

"We anticipate that the AIM Triton service will accelerate the growing use of voice, video and desktop-to-mobile messaging across all users," Chamath Palihapitya, AIM general manager, said in a statement.

The launch comes as competitors, such as Yahoo and Google, have rolled out similar IM services.

Other features of AIM Triton include tabbed IMs, which are designed to improve multiple, simultaneous chats and a drag-and-drop feature for file transfers. The service aims to connect up to 20 people from a user's Buddy List for a live, multi-party chat. The chat service is also designed to allow people to join an existing AIM discussion.

AOL plans to roll out its AIM Triton service throughout its network via a system upgrade and will also offer the service to users who download it from its AIM Web site. The new service requires users to have Windows XP or Windows 2000 running on their systems.

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