AIM PhoneLine is offering a free phone number and soon a lot more. I say that largely based on plans discussed in an open session yesteday by pal Ragui Kamel at the VOIP Developer's Conference about a new program that is now in place to provide developer's the toolkit necessary to produce applications that work with the AOL Instant Messenger based PhoneLine.
Unlike the Yahoo plug in program, the AIM Phoneline API program goes deeper, because Yahoo restricts the developers from getting involved in the Voice aspects of Messenger for now. That's largely due to Yahoo's over zealous security. What also makes this different is AOL is pursuing hardware as well as software developers. The AOL approach also seems a lot smoother, less rushed and more thought out
than Skype's which has had many a developer frustrated at times.
Ragui Kamel is also one of my telecom industry winepals. Over the last few months I've actually AIMed some compatible clients and friend led companies I know their way and the future for them and AIM Phone Line appears very bright.