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VoiceStream putting AIM in new phones

The wireless carrier is including AOL Instant Messenger products as a feature on the Nokia 3390 phone, which already offers short messaging service capabilities.

VoiceStream Wireless is offering a cell phone with instant-messaging capabilities already built in, thanks to a deal the company signed with America Online.

VoiceStream is including AOL Instant Messenger products as a feature on the new Nokia 3390 phone. That phone already offers SMS (short messaging service), a text-based messaging system that is widely popular among cell phone users in Europe, but that has been slow to catch on in the United States.

AOL Instant Messenger is the leader in PC-based messaging services, with about 28 million members, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

Despite its notable lead in instant messaging, the online giant has to watch out for gains made by rivals Microsoft, with its MSN Messenger, and Yahoo, with its namesake service.

AOL has been working to increase the presence of its product. It already had a deal with VoiceStream to allow people to download a version of the service onto their phones, and has a similar deal with Sprint PCS.

In addition, it has begun working with Sun Microsystems on technology to enable the companies' respective instant-messaging services to communicate with each other, on the heels of a similar arrangement with IBM's Lotus unit. AOL had been criticized for its reluctance to open its instant-messaging system to other similar offerings.