AOL, Macromedia show off IM-enabled applications

The companies hope instant messaging will soon be showing up in everything from Web logs to online auctions

Following an earlier announcement this week that AOL will open up its Instant Messenger and ICQ products to Macromedia developers early next year, the two companies have revealed some examples of how future IM-enabled applications may work.

Speaking at Macromedia's MAX 2003 conference in Salt Lake City, AOL vice president of desktop messaging Edmund Fish showed some examples of how AIM and ICQ would integrate with Macromedia's recently launched Central product.

Speaking to an audience of Macromedia developers about the partnership, Fish said that AOL wanted the right partner for a new breed of IM applications. "Today we are making history. For the first time we are inviting software developers to embed ICQ and AIM into their applications. We understand that you are going to think of specific times when IM and presence will really add to your applications," he said.

The first application of the technology demonstrated at the event was an online auction site, similar to eBay, but with an IM box in the corner of the page where potential buyers could exchange instant messages with a seller. Fish also showed an IM-enabled blog page where readers called talk directly with the blogger. "Wouldn't it be cool if I was looking at someone's blog, and I could see if the author was online at that moment and was able to initiate an instant messaging conversation?"

Macromedia Central allows applications developed using the Macromedia's Flash technology to work offline. According to Macromedia's chief software architect Kevin Lynch, it also allows for the creation of "pods" of content on a user's desktop which aggregate information from around the Web and store it locally on the client.

"All of these apps run on my machine -- the information is cached on my machine so I can disconnect from the Internet and still get all the information," he explained.

AOL claims around 1.5 billion instant messages are sent every day across its network -- up around 100 percent on last year.