Google opens up Gmail IM chat to AOL

Google has opened up its Gmail chat feature so that it works with AOL, in recognition that in order to draw users it has to embrace the granddaddy of IM.

Google’s Gmail service has caught on in many circles, but its user base still trails that of AOL, in part because Google is younger and arrived very late to the game. Google’s offerings are in many ways about to become superior — it already offering chat seemlessly from within Gmail, but soon is likely to will offer it across its Docs online suite. But many users are content with AOL’s messaging and email, and must be lured.

Google integrated real-time chat into the Gmail last year, and is convenient because it lets you switch instantly between email and instant messaging, and contains a history of chats and emails together in threads to keep track

The integration with AIM is intuitive: Click on the upside-down triangle next to “set status here” in your Gmail chat and select “Sign into AIM” from the drop down menu. Once you’ve entered your AIM log-in information, your AIM contacts will appear with your Gmail contacts, and you can message away.

First comes support for Gmail’s English version, other languages come soon.