For the last few months, we at iotum have been working with AOL's Halifax voice development team, the group responsible for AIM Phoneline. The fruits of that labour were unveiled today, as AOL announced their Open AIM Phoneline developers initiative. Under "scary smart" VP Ragui Kamel's guidance, AOL is extending the idea of AIM Phoneline to include an ecosystem of development partners. They are taking concrete steps to become the application centric service provider I wrote about yesterday. Their announcement today is about the release of three sets of APIs, and the initial three software development partners who have built products with those APIs. The three APIs they released were focused on personalization, device enablement, and call management. In addition, they announced the business model for software development partners wishing to participate in this program. Vendors joining the program will have an opportunity to participate in an online storefront, with a revenue share flowing back to AOL from any transactions there. iotum, along with MyNumo and mVox, is one of those first three premier developer partners that AOL has announced today. We'll be demoing our service, integrated with AIM Phoneline and AIM presence, in the AOL booth at VON next week. When this service goes live to the public later this year, iotum will be one of the first add-on services you can buy with AIM Phoneline. Our offer? For the AIM Phoneline customer, Iotum will offer services that help customers differentiate between which calls are important, and which can wait, based on their relevance to the customer. Iotum will then find you, wherever you are, and send the call there. Some AIM Phoneline users use it as a second line to run a home-based business. Iotum can help prioritize important customer calls, and send those calls to a cell phone, if the business owner is off site. Other AIM Phoneline users use AIM Phoneline as a second line to screen calls from sales people, or pesky dates. Iotum can help prioritize those calls by sending them automatically to voice mail, when you’re not willing to chat right now. The bottom line is that if you’re an AIM Phoneline user, and you have a need to be reachable by important folks in your life, or a need to preserve privacy from others, iotum can help. We're super excited by this opportunity for three reasons: First, naturally, is being able to provide services to 43 million AIM users. Working with AOL helps us grow our market by opening up a new audience that we hitherto haven’t been able to reach. As Mark Evans noted, this is our opportunity to target iotum to a significant audience, which we haven't been able to do until today. Second, turning AIM Phoneline into a platform means that, as developers, iotum doesn’t need to worry about a lot of the details associated with providing a service. For instance, we do not need to worry about negotiating terminations or provisioning phone numbers, because AOL has taken care of those details for us. It’s easier for us to get to market, and we can focus on making our service the best service it can be. And finally, third, AOL will help us to promote our services to the AIM community by providing a store front where AIM users can purchase services from iotum, and by promoting that store front from the AIM client. From where I sit, this is a classic "a rising tide floats all boats" play for us. The relationship we've been building with AOL has extended over a period of a year now, starting with an introduction to Ragui at about this time last year. As Jeff Pulver noted this morning, this relationship is a prime example of how the VON ecosystem that he's been nurturing for so many years works, and works well. One of the best parts about this experience has been working with the AOL team. During our initial contacts with the Halifax engineering team, it became clear that in order for us to implement some of the features in iotum, we would have to make some changes in our respective products. In doing so, our engineers have helped with the specification of the AIM Phoneline call control APIs, as we mutually determined the best to integrate iotum, and by extension, other products needing call control capabilities with AIM Phoneline. That's enormously satisfying for us, and that flexibility is the mark of a great developer program. Our contacts with the business people have been no less satisfying. We found AOL to be an easy, responsive vendor to work with. They understand that successful platform programs provide developers with great tools, a meaningfully large market for the developers products, and promotional opportunities to monetize the developers efforts. They've delivered in spades. Many thanks to the teams in Halifax and Virginia who helped bring this together, and kudos to Ragui Kamel for the vision and guidance that have led to this launch. More from Mathew Ingram, Jim Courtney, Bruce Stewart, Andrew Hansen, Andy Abramson (here and here), James Enck, and WebProNews. UPDATE: Here's another great post from PhoneBoy. Among the many things he says is:
What struck me about this is that AOL sees their place in the ecosystem–as plumbing. They've got a relatively open telephony platform where third parties will be able to develop their own solutions and not have to worry about "the plumbing." The fact they were willing to work with third party companies like iotum so closely suggests they are far more open than Skype, which still doesn't have a call transfer API despite what I'm sure has been constant nagging by iotum and others. Alec tells me "these guys get it."
I'm not sure he's quite right that AOL sees their place as plumbing. I rather suspect that they have application plans of their own. However, the fact that they're willing to open up their plumbing to others is exceptio