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AOL inks deals in rush to go wireless

The online giant makes major inroads into wireless with the acquisition of one company, a multiyear agreement with another, and the launch of its services via a cellular network.

    America Online made major inroads into wireless today with the acquisition of one company, a multiyear agreement with another, and the launch of its content and services via the cellular network of a third company.

    AT&T Wireless Internet customers may access AOL news, weather, MapQuest and MovieFone via their cell phones starting today. AOL members will also be able to access their email and personalized stock portfolios by signing in with their AOL screen names and passwords. The companies announced plans in July.

    AOL also said today that it will make its content and services available to users of OmniSky's wireless services, which provides wireless access to some PalmPilot users. The multiyear agreement will allow handheld computer users who subscribe to Omnisky's wireless services to access AOL email, instant messaging, news, weather and stock quotes.

    Finally, AOL said it will acquire San Francisco-based iAmaze, a company that specializes in DHTML, or Dynamic HTML--the technology that makes Web-based applications speedier.

    "iAmaze's leading technology allows consumers to access their applications from any Internet-enabled device," Barry Schuler, president of AOL Interactive Services, said in a statement. "iAmaze will help further our AOL Anywhere strategy, enabling our members and users of our Web-based brands to use the interactive services they value and count on anytime, anywhere."

    The announcements are the latest in a long line of deals and acquisitions AOL has made to boost its AOL Anywhere strategy, which aims to deliver the company's content to a variety of technologies.

    Last week, AOL acquired Quack.com in a move to make AOL's services available over the telephone. In June, AOL partnered with TiVo to bolster AOLTV; TiVo's technology lets TV viewers customize their programming. And in April, AOL and Gateway unveiled a series of Internet appliances, including a countertop appliance.

    "I think they are aggressively pursing the (AOL Anywhere) strategy," said Andrea Rice, an analyst with Deutsche Banc Alex Brown. "They're positioning themselves to be everywhere, and the deals that they signed are a reflection of that."