mmO2's German business announced the launch of ICQ® mobile instant messaging services, enabling customers with a compatible handset to access the ICQ service on move. This follows a group wide agreement between mmO2 and America Online to bring AOL's popular instant messaging services (including ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM®)) to O2 subscribers across Europe. It is expected that services will roll out in the UK in the Autumn. AOL's instant messaging services are well-established worldwide brands, with tens of millions of active users each month.
Instant messaging (IM) provides real-time, easy access to communities of friends, family or colleagues. A user can see when his or her contacts or 'buddies' are online, and can begin instant, two-way text based 'conversations'. ICQ and AIM on O2 use the latest technology to recreate the PC/Internet experience via a mobile handset - messages can be sent from handset to handset, as well as between handsets and PCs, laptops and PDAs.
The service has the look and feel and functionality that users are familiar with, including registration, searching for and adding names to 'buddy' or contact lists, online status change, and message send and receive. New features have been added to make the service even easier for mobile users - including support for Tegic's T9® predictive text input and template phrases. The service is available on selected handsets - O2 and America Online will continue working to broaden the handset range.
Instant Messaging is the second most used application on the Internet (after email) - usage increased by 72% in the UK and 83% in Germany last year. Strategy Analytics suggests that "Instant Messaging will emerge as a staple application that will register strong wireless growth during 2003" and forecasts a global installed base of 153 million users in 2004.¹
Kent Thexton, chief marketing and data officer of mmO2, said: "We are leveraging the knowledge and broad international member base of AOL instant messaging services to provide mobile connectivity to users. The O2 service is easy to use, offers value for money, and enables customers to 'instant message' wherever they are. We think this new way to communicate is very compelling and expect it to further drive usage of mobile data services."
Bill Schwebel, vice president and general manager of AOL Mobile, commented "We are pleased to provide O2 customers with the ability to communicate with ICQ and AIM communities direct from their mobile handsets. For millions of consumers around the world, instant messaging is a vital tool for staying connected - with the ICQ and AIM services now available from O2, customers can stay in constant contact while they're on the go."