AOL and Plaxo

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Tom Keating
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AOL and Plaxo

AOL and Plaxo are joining forces to make it easier to find your contacts. I personally get annoyed by all the Plaxo emails I get asking me to update my contact information. I get at least one or two a week from pubilic relations firms. It just seems a bit intrusive if you ask me. But apparently, a lot of people use Plaxo, so they will mostly likely approve of the news that AOL is joining forces with Plaxo. Hmmm, I wonder when AOL will purchase or make a deal with, yet another popular "personal information" aggregator? Lots of people enter in their high school information, birth date, year of graduation, current email address, etc. Imagine if AOL could "link" that information with their "buddy lists" so you could "instantly" find and Instant Message (IM) a long lost high school buddy?

Anyway, America Online, Inc. announced today that it is working with Plaxo, Inc., an industry leader in Web-based contact management, to help AOL members and AIM users keep their e-mail address books and Buddy List features up-to-date, and make it easy to access AOL services from other e-mail programs.

Under the agreement, AOL will integrate Plaxo(TM) services to enable AOL members and AIM users to easily import, export and synchronize contact information in their Microsoft® Outlook®, Outlook Express® and third party Web-based e-mail address books with their AOL Mail and AIM Mail Address Books. This will also enable AIM users to automatically pull contact information from third party address books to pre-populate, or build upon, their Buddy List features.

In addition, the agreement will enable AOL members, AIM users and Plaxo members to detect AIM presence information from within Plaxo and Plaxo-enabled platforms, such as Outlook and Outlook Express. A new AOL/AIM Screen Name field will be added to both Plaxo and Outlook 'v-cards' and the familiar AOL® Running Man icon will appear in contact lists and e-mail headers to let users know when AIM® buddies are online and available to chat.

The net result for all will be a universal and up-to-date address book that can be used at home, at work, and the road, and which provides the accurate contact and presence information necessary for all digital communications. This will enable the more than one million AIM users who have already adopted the new free AIM Mail service to easily import contact information from other e-mail applications to quickly bring their AIM Mail Address Book up to date.

"Together with Plaxo, we are making it easy for our members and users to create, update and maintain their e-mail address books and Buddy List features," said Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager for AIM and ICQ, America Online, Inc. "Through this agreement, we will also enable Plaxo users to detect AIM presence within the Plaxo service and Outlook, giving them instant access to their friends, family and colleagues."

Finally, Plaxo will integrate access to the AIM service into its software and AIM users will be given the opportunity to install the Plaxo plug-in for Outlook or Outlook Express while downloading or upgrading the AIM service. AOL members will be able to adopt Plaxo both within the AOL service and on the® portal.

"We are excited to bring the popular AIM service into our offerings," said Ben Golub, president and CEO of Plaxo. "By combining highly accurate and available contact information with the ability to instantly see who is online and available to chat, we are providing a more integrated communication experience for our millions of customers. We are also extremely pleased to offer AOL members, AIM users and AIM Mail users our contact management services, enabling them to stay connected to friends, family, colleagues and customers."

The AOL / Plaxo Integration has been customized to let AOL members and AIM users easily consolidate, populate and update their existing address book entries on a case-by-case basis. The custom technology integration will enable AOL members and AIM users to:

- Import address books and automatically populate their AOL Mail or AIM Mail Address Books and AIM Buddy List from their Plaxo Contacts which contains contacts from Outlook and Outlook Express and third party Web-based e-mail;

- Stay in sync by automatically exchanging updated contact information with friends, colleagues, and customers;

- Determine which elements of their contact information will be public or private, and with whom the various elements will be shared; and

- Quickly configure open mail access (IMAP) integration between AOL Mail or AIM Mail and Outlook, Outlook Express.

The AOL / Plaxo Integration will enable Plaxo subscribers to:

- Add AIM presence information into their Plaxo, Outlook and Outlook Express accounts to easily see when friends, family, customers and colleagues are online and available to chat;

- Initiate an AOL instant messaging session from their Plaxo, Outlook and Outlook Express address books; and

- Access their universal address book from their chosen communication platform (home e-mail, work e-mail, mobile, phone or AIM), to easily connect with friends, family, colleagues and customers.

Pricing and Availability

Both AOL and Plaxo will make the integrated features available at no additional charge to their subscribers and registered users. A public beta of the joint technology will be available from America Online, Inc. later this year.

The new AIM Mail and AIM services will continue to be free, as will the basic Plaxo service.

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