Just when it seemed the instant messaging wars had quieted down, it looks like things are heating up again. America Online (AOL) has now blocked iCast, a CMGI company, from accessing its AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) program. iCast's iCaster application combines a multimedia player with messaging, using technology from Tribal Voice, another CMGI firm. Several companies, including AltaVista and AT&T, use Tribal Voice's technology in their instant messaging programs.
AOL has fiercely resisted attempts by unauthorised third parties to interoperate with its AIM program. While the company has agreed to licence its software to some companies, it has accused unauthorised companies of "hacking" in their attempts to work with the AIM program.
Microsoft battled with AOL for months, with AOL blocking its MSN Messenger program and Microsoft finding ways around the blockade. Microsoft eventually admitted defeat and dropped attempts to work with AOL.
Between its AIM and ICQ programs, AOL dominates the instant messaging space. The company has said it will work with an industry standards group on developing a common standard for instant messaging programs. But that, apparently, hasn't been enough for some of its competitors, who have complained in a letter to the US Congress that the company isn't doing enough to work toward open access.