Mobile messaging coming to the US

The Nokia/AOL deal targets the huge, untapped American market for text messaging - with an Internet twist
Written by Justin Pearse, Contributor

An agreement between Nokia and AOL, announced on Monday, will allow users to access the ISP's Instant Messaging service from mobile devices.

The two companies are to work together to develop a version of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) for a variety of Nokia's handheld devices. This will allow real-time communication between mobile users and AOL's online AIM users.

The two companies also announced that they would team up to support AIM and any future wireless extensions of AOL's online services.

The scarcity of GSM networks in the US means that SMS is virtually unknown there. However, GSM has boomed in Europe, and with wireless AIM, Nokia and AOL hope to spark off similar levels of peer-to-peer mobile messaging in America.

"This is an attempt to get SMS-type functionality into the US market," says Nokia vice president of corporate communications, Jim Bowman. "SMS is a very effective way of communicating, and we hope this will jump-start it in the US."

The wireless instant messaging solution will be optimised to work with Telegic Communication's T9 predictive text input software, which is already employed in Nokia's 7110 handset.

The application is expected to arrive in products in the US by the second half of 2000.

AOL is aggressively expanding into the wireless space, announcing earlier this month its AOL Anywhere mobile strategy, which includes deals to develop content and services with Nokia, Ericsson and RTS Wireless.

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