Mobile

ICQ goes wireless around the world

America Online says its ICQ division will provide messaging services for wireless companies in Germany, Israel, Taiwan and Canada, among other countries.

America Online said Tuesday that its ICQ division will provide messaging services for wireless companies in Germany, Israel, Taiwan and Canada, among other countries.

In these deals, ICQ will offer a number of wireless messaging applications on a variety of software platforms, including Short Message Service (SMS), two-way SMS, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), Java for cell phones and the Symbian operating system.

More specifically, ICQ will offer its SMS and two-way SMS products for Israel's Cellcom; mobile access to ICQ's contact lists for Germany's E-Plus and the Netherlands' KPN Mobile; and SMS and WAP applications for a Chinese-language mobile messaging service with Taiwan's FarEasTone. ICQ also will provide SMS and WAP features for the Philippines' Smart, Australia's Telstra and Singapore Telecommunications. Canada's Rogers AT&T Wireless has been using ICQ services for the past year.

The deals underscore AOL's attempt to extend its instant messaging dominance into the wireless world. Through its ownership of ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), the company has the largest instant messaging population. Instant messaging, which lets people exchange text messages in real time, has become one of the most popular applications on the Internet, and it has been gaining popularity on cell phones.

Mobile instant messaging via SMS has become popular in Europe but has yet to gain momentum in the United States. AOL and its competitor Yahoo recently struck deals with wireless companies to allow their instant messaging users to send text messages to cell phones.

AOL's announcements Tuesday coincided with the 3GSM World Congress, a wireless conference that runs through Friday in Cannes, France.