AIM's last stand?

AOL's Instant Messenger service, the grandaddy of all modern instant messaging clients, might be on its last legs. The New York Times says that AOL will be laying off over 100 employees by month's end, mostly drawn from the AIM group, to the point that one former employee says the department is 'eviscerated.'

The AIM service draws in about $50 million for AOL every year, but it costs $25 million to keep up. Two employees 'familiar with the matter' said that AOL is hoping to get those costs down to $2 million a year. Another former employee said that the AIM team consisted only of support staff at this point, with “nearly all of the West Coast tech team [having] been killed.” If that's true, it would probably mean that AOL is planning to stop development of the software and milk the service as-is for as long as it can.

These layoffs are only the first of what AOL is describing as 'strategic but very difficult changes.' The company has the team behind the local news service Patch.com in its sights next.

Some pretty drastic changes have been taking place over at AOL lately, not least of all its acquisition of The Huffington Post. Although it does still offer its perennial dial-up service, it's been trying to focus on new non-dying revenue streams, trying to develop an advertising platform and a reputation as a content provider.

For now, though, AIM is still here, and it's going to be interesting to see what happens going forward. The noose is tightening, and things aren't looking good for AIM. Speaking of AIM, when was the last time you used it, or logged on to AOL, for that matter? Let us know below.

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