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Aimster (napster redux?)


Aimster throws a curveball to AOL, recording industry 

By Michael Hill 
Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. - It might sound like Napster redux. Even the name plays on
its famous forebear: Aimster.

But Aimster is no Napster. 

Aimster was designed to piggyback on America Online Inc.'s instant
messenger service, called AIM. So while Aimster allows searching for and
swapping of MP3s, digital pictures and other files, those exchanges are
made among people linked through AIM buddy lists. That distinguishes it
from Napster's Web-wide approach to file sharing.

It's still unclear how AOL and the recording industry will ultimately deal
with Aimster.  But it is clear that Aimster's aim is to be more than a
swapping service for Christina Aguilera tunes - it wants to make money by
working with businesses to market their products.

"It's clearly making a bid to be a commercial player," said Aram Sinnreich,
a senior analyst at Jupiter Communications. Aimster was the idea of Johnny
Deep, a 43-year-old business consultant and author of technical books who
wanted to marry a file-transfer program to instant messaging.

Deep this year bankrolled the project with a group of friends and family.

A trial version of Aimster was posted in August as freeware on its Web
site, and on the first day there were 700 downloads. Four months later,
there are 2.5 million AOL users registered on Aimster, Deep said.

Today, Aimster is a small Albany-based collective of programmers working
in an office that screams "dot-com startup": exposed duct work, empty
pizza boxes, sleep-deprived 20-somethings.

It also has a new freeware version of software set to debut. The new
version is designed to also work with instant messaging services run by
Microsoft, ICQ and others. And it can be used to send messages or files
between competing platforms.  While Aimster users are limited to
exchanging files with people on their buddy lists, its developers see that
as a plus when it comes to security.

"The way I look at it, we're the next technical innovation upon Napster,"
Deep said.