AOL messenger delivers free calls

AOL’s instant messaging service, AIM, is about to get a VOIP overhaul stateside next month. By the end of May, the AIM Phoneline will give its custome

AOL’s instant messaging service, AIM, is about to get a VOIP overhaul stateside next month. By the end of May, the AIM Phoneline will give its customers the chance to call any number in the US and 30 other countries for free and receive incoming calls on – wait for it – a freebie phone number.

Voice over instant messaging is already on the menus of Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger, so AOL isn’t really treading any new ground, but it will be the first service to offer a free local phone number which, although it only accepts incoming calls, is a definite bonus.

It’s all in the battle for Skype-ground and AOL’s move into the territory of e-Bay’s king of VOIP marks a rather pleasing trend; we’re already speculating on what innovative companies like Skype will do to keep one step ahead.

Also on the cards is AOL’s new blogging spot, AIM Pages, which’ll give you the nod every time anyone on your bloggers contact list updates their blog. Why, it’s every nosy parker’s dream.

Americans already hooked up with AOL will be getting their teeth into AIM Phoneline Unlimited for a $14.95 upgrade next month, but there’s no sign of a UK price yet. Keep your eye on the AIM website for news.