AOL Sends AIMbots To Work

The company has had some success with its AIM Robot technology. There is one that feeds users news headlines or on-demand news from The Wall Street Journal, another that lets users help "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" contestants answer questions, one that find recipes for dinner, and several that play games with individuals or groups.

Starting Monday, AIMBot technology will be available to enterprise IM users for use in applications such as CRM. "The bots are another way to 'webify' applications. It's a user interface alternative to the web browser," said Brian Curry, AOL's senior director of AIM network services, said.

AOL's vision for enterprise users includes such mundane applications as telephone or e-mail directories and company alerts. They can also be used to scan messages for compliance violations. Consumer-oriented enterprise customers can use AIMBots to develop applications, such as the games that are already on the AIM site.

While AOL is providing the network and the basic infrastructure for AIMBot's, it is not providing the software or any development toolkit. For that the company has called upon the usual cast of characters including enterprise partners IMLogic, Facetime, and Akonix. "We've stepped back from being a software company and would rather just provide the network infrastructure," said Curry.

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Dave Fowler of IMLogic sees big potential in AIMBot applications. "I see them used for presence detection and management, bringing disparate groups together for information gathering purposes, and notification applications, especially customer alerts to things like coming service outages," he said. He ought to know, "We already have 70 development partners working on applications for customers.

Mike Henry at the Wall Street Journal was an early adopter of AIM Bots when his newspapers AIMBot was launched in the spring of 2003. "We had an idea for a news agent of sorts and went to AOL for the network, and Infinite Agent to develop the technology." At first the application was used just to query WSJ news, and later the company added alerts that enable users to find out about news the moment it breaks.

There are two pricing structures for AIMBots, one for pure enterprise uses and one for consumer uses. Enterprise use is defined as applications for internal use and for use with corporate business partners, but not for public access.

Application price ranges from $1.25 per seat for up to 5,000 seats, to 75 cents per seat for applications available to more than 25,000 users. Price for consumer applications starts out at $1,000 per month for up to 50,000 sessions, goes to $5,000 per month for up to 500,000 sessions, and moves to one cent per session beyond that.

This story courtesy of TechWeb.