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AOL's AIM Users To Get A Free Phone Number

AOL is preparing to leverage its dominant strength in its AIM instant messaging service by giving a free phone number to its users and, in addition, by introducing AIM Pages, a social networking feature.

The free phone number would compete with eBay's Skype VoIP service, which charges $4 for a number. AIM Pages would compete with MySpace. AOL, a Time Warner unit, has 38 percent of the IM market, according to recent market research studies.

AOL and Time Warner have been seeking to position its IM solution for several months now, working to parlay the free service into new areas.

According to published reports, AOL would sell a service featuring unlimited outgoing calls for $14.90 a month.

The AIM Buddy List is central to AOL's new services, which are scheduled to be activated later this month. AIM users can call each other for free with the new service. AOL plans to have AIM Pages available for testing late next week.

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