AOL Launches AIM Mail With 2GB of storage
By Charlene Li
AOL will offer 2 GB of storage with its new free, Web-based email service called AIM Mail. It will also feature integration with the AIM instant messaging client. I like the fact that they stuck all the bells and whistles into the product right from the start – lots of storage, full spam and anti-virus protection, and the ability to view emails in third party programs like Outlook Express. The beta product will be available at aim.com as part of an update to AIM 5.9
The product is highly competitive with the offerings from Gmail, doubles what Yahoo! Mail offers in terms of storage and blows the Hotmail away (big caveat – I have not had the opportunity to test the product yet – this is all based on some of the pre-announced features). AOL’s hope is that it will tap into its base of loyal AIM users – especially among young consumers – and convince them to extend the use of their AIM screenname into email.
One question that is inevitable – won’t this cannibalize AOL’s subscriber base? On the contrary, I believe that those people who would do this were already at risk and were likely to jump ship to someone like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail soon. By offering tiered services – free email/IM, BYOA for $9.95/month, and full services dial-up at $14.95, AOL now has multiple ways to have a connection with users. The end game: build the audience in order to attract advertising dollars that will replace declining subscriber revenues.
I've included the text of the draft press release below:
AMERICA ONLINE ANNOUNCES BETA RELEASE FOR NEW WEB-BASED E-MAIL SERVICE New “AIM® Mail” Service Provides Spam and Virus Protection, 2 GB of Online Storage and Integration with Popular AOL® Instant Messenger™ (AIM®) Service
DULLES, VA – May 11, 2005 – America Online, Inc., the world’s leading interactive services company, announced today that it has begun beta testing for its new Web-based e-mail service that will be available to all Internet users. The new service – AIM® Mail – is being made available to Internet users first through the AOL® Instant Messenger™ (AIM®) service and will be rolled out to other AOL Web properties, including the AOL.COM® Web site, in the coming months.
The new Web Mail service introduces the AIM.com e-mail domain, which is based upon one of the most popular Internet communication brands available today. AIM Mail provides industry-leading spam and e-mail virus protection, giving Internet users the protection they need for a safer online experience, and additional features including AIM presence and instant messaging integration and 2 GB of online e-mail storage. The beta version of AIM Mail is available now as part of the ongoing beta test of the updated AIM 5.9 software.
Features of the new AIM Mail service include:
* Spam and anti-virus protection to help keep a user’s mail box free from junk mail and harmful viruses.
* 2 GB of e-mail storage which can be accessed from any Web-enabled computer, and a search feature that makes it easy to find new, old, or sent messages.
* Integration with the AIM service with the familiar Running Man icon appearing in e-mail headers if a sender or cc-ed recipient is logged on to the AOL® or AIM service. This allows users to instantly see when friends and colleagues are online and enables them to easily respond via e-mail or instant message.
* A single sign-on process allows users to utilize their AIM Screen Name as their aim.com e-mail address enabling them to launch and access their instant messaging and e-mail service with a single password. It also allows users to launch their mail service from their AIM Buddy List® feature or the Mail panel in the AIM Today welcome screen with a single click.
* An Unsend Message feature lets users cancel a message after it’s been sent to another AOL or AIM Mail user (if the message is unread). Users can also check the status of a message sent to an AOL or AIM user and confirm if and when the message has been read.
* A clean, simple design with drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to organize and save messages into folders. Incoming new mail automatically appears as it arrives and an audible tone sounds as a notification.
* An Address Book with an AIM presence indicator lets users send an instant message from the Address Book to a contact if they are online.
* Rich text (HTML) formatting options for the style of e-mail composition, including the ability to change fonts, font sizes and colors, add bullets or numbers, and change text alignment.
* An Auto-Address feature automatically fills in an e-mail address as a user types the first part of a name that already exists in their Address Book.
* A built-in spell checker enables users to quickly proof-read messages before they are sent.
* Away Messages that can inform others via a "return" e-mail that the user is away and unable to read their e-mails, and "e-mail signatures" that can also include a user's online instant messaging status.
The sleek interface and underlying technology for the AIM Mail service is based on technology from Mailblocks, Inc., a consumer Web-based e-mail service acquired by America Online in July 2004.
Both current AIM® users and Internet users at large can participate in the AIM Mail beta test by visiting AIM.com and downloading the AIM 5.9 beta software.
Like the improved AIM Today welcome page, which made its debut in an earlier test version of the updated AIM 5.9 software, the AIM Mail beta test will be delivered to users via the AOL Explorer browser.
About America Online, Inc.
America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services