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HP calls on AOL for messaging

Hewlett-Packard plans to integrate American Online's Enterprise AIM Services into its global messaging products, as AOL continues to seek corporate customers.

America Online has signed up a key partner in its attempt to take its instant messaging service into the corporate world.

Hewlett-Packard said Wednesday that it will integrate AOL's Enterprise AIM Services into its global messaging products, focusing on the corporate and carrier markets, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

AOL has been interested in the corporate market for some time, hoping to get businesses to pay for special versions of its services, including instant messaging and address books, that are usually offered free to consumers.

HP signed up with the online company's Enterprise AIM Certified Partner Program, announced in November. The move gives HP the ability to build applications that use the AIM messaging gateway and that can be integrated with its own applications.

HP will be able to develop specific applications for its customers that can be used with the enterprise and with outside partners, said Bruce Stewart, senior vice president at AOL's strategic business solutions division.

"We've done some piloting and testing with them already. Over the next couple of quarters (we) should see some really interesting stuff," he said.

AOL dominates the instant messaging world, but its customer base consists largely of consumers. While major competitors, including Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM have been trying to gain control of the enterprise market for instant messaging, infighting over standards and interoperability has held up widespread adoption.

Meanwhile, smaller companies such as Communicator have been id="940259">gaining a foothold in the business world.

IBM's SameTime is considered a leader in the official corporate market, but illicit use of AOL and other companies' consumer-oriented products has been rising. Market researcher Gartner estimates that free IM services will be found in 70 percent of enterprises this year, without the sanction or support of IT divisions in those companies.