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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Hm... So they're still making 50% profit? Not bad for a company LOSING money in most of their other departments... But of course it makes sense to gut this department then... LOL. Good job AOL...

FYI there has actually been an update to AIM recently. It has been redesigned and has a whole new look/layout. The client has been totally rewritten it seems from the ground up.
For those of you interested in checking it out go here:
http://www.aim.com/

Help me out here. The service brings in 50 million a year, BUT it costs 25 million to maintain. My math is terrible, but wouldn't that mean they are earning 25 million from the service? Is that not enough to keep it going? Does part of the maintenance include the salaries of the developers and such? I must be missing something here.

The idea is to generate more cash for the company as a whole; not just AIM. AOL is a multi-faceted beast. Clearly other areas of the company are not doing so well financially, so extra funds are needed. AIM is one facet which they believe can be streamlined so that the cash saved can be put to better use elsewhere in the company.

The reason it costs so much is because almost nobody (who knows anything) uses the actual AIM client anymore. They use meta-clients like Trillian, Pidgin or imo. I haven't used the AIM client in nearly a decade.

That being said, I do more communication through the AIM client than any other, even Facebook. Even if AOL stops supporting AIM, they'll sell the protocol to someone else and it will be integrated with another.

I'm not surprised. It seemed like it was only a matter of time since development of the official AIM client has slowed down lately.

I wonder how long they'll keep the protocol itself running. It is still technically used due to third party applications being able to connect to it.

sava700 said,
Good...let it die. But I would hope facebook dies sometime in the near future also...

You must not have any friends

Wouldn't surprise me. The latest version is the most horrible messenger client I've ever used. I absolutely refuse to use that garbage.

I still use it today but I find that 97% of my friends are no longer using it. Only some close family members are on it. I would hate to see it go but then again its not really serving much of a purpose anymore.

Haven't used AIM in years. Unless it gets integrated into MSN Messenger or Facebook Chat, it'll stay unused. Simply put, I'm at a stage where I can't keep up with all of these different chat protocols all of the time. Hell, I'm only actively using messenger again recently, I was pretty much exclusive to FB Chat for a long time - then again, that's where all my friends chat anyway.

It's not that I dislike the protocol per se, but there's only one dedicated chat app I'd rather use anymore, and that's the one built into Windows 8. Having excess chat apps to talk to a whole 5 other people (who I can get in touch with on FB if really necessary or --shock horror-- by e-mail!) just feels redundant to me. That, and the latest revisions of AIM after (5, or 6, I forget) were just absolutely awful, bloated, ugly, etc etc. It's the main driver of me to STOP using the AIM protocol, ironically.

I remember using PowWow! That was a cool program. At the time, being able to see the other people typing in real time and the fact that it had group chat was great.

I used to use AIM all the time, it was the text messaging/facebook at the time. It was just before SMS took off with teens and myspace became popular. It was simple and offered a solid service and did exactly what it was supposed to do. Once i left highschool though that was the end for me.

FalsePositive said,
I use Miranda IM. I hope they don't shut down the servers as I use the the aim protocol.

from the looks of things it will probably be around for a while as the article said it costs around $25million to maintain a year and takes in around $50million and it sounds like they want to drop the costs to around $2million to maintain it.

and it appears the article was saying that it's probably not going to develop the AIM software much anymore and just milk the service for as long as possible as i suspect if they can get the costs anywhere near what they are hoping and even if that $50million a year drops to half of that in the next handful of years i suspect they will still keep the servers online as it will still be in the millions of dollars for them which i can't see them dropping support of something that's taking in millions of $$$ for them.

so short answer i don't think we got to worry about them dumping the AIM servers anytime into the next handful of years i would think,

Ugh...
Using it still... would be a shame to see it go.

I kind of don't like corporate logic...
What? It's just giving us twice the profit of our investment? CLOSE IT! (well, yes, they are still supporting it, but you know... Actually trying to genuinely penetrate the market again with some fresh ideas, that could help better)

Everything that AOL, sorry... Aol. (yeah, very significant change there... lol) - well everything they touch dies...
They are like the Grim Reaper.

GS:mac

It just screams greed to me. By cutting investments from $25M down to $2M and firing over 100 people - do they expect to continue to rake in $50M? And then if they manage to continue making that kind of profit then karma is obviously taking a day off.

I also still use AIM but through another client. I haven't actually used the AIM client in probably 5 years or more.

That's kind of sad. I haven't used AIM in ages, but it'll be sad to see it go. Mostly use MSN/Skype these days.

I miss the good old AIM days. Especially when that special someone would sign on and you'd hear their unique sign-on notification sound... ... and then when they'd put their away message up....

Adamb10 said,
I use aim everyday. Would suck to lose it.

Same. I've been using it since AOL 4.0 Not many contacts left on it but it works

Adamb10 said,
I use aim everyday. Would suck to lose it.

Agreed. it's my preferred messenger of choice (although i use 'Pidgin' to connect to it instead of the official client which just has excessive BS in it where as Pidgin gets straight to the point without any of the crap)

AIM fail, hahaha I have not used it since prob 92. It was so full of spam bots at that time I retired it then. Went on to use Trillian, Palringo, and now I just use FB chat.

Mikee4fun said,
AIM fail, hahaha I have not used it since prob 92. It was so full of spam bots at that time I retired it then. Went on to use Trillian, Palringo, and now I just use FB chat.

AIM didn't exist back in 92. Not for a few years after that.

flexkeyboard said,
the only people I know that still use AIM are people my age when AIM was the thing in 1999

Yep, more of us 'old school' users as it seems people nowadays are mostly about Facebook or Twitter but i prefer to avoid Facebook when i can as i prefer to avoid it as it's to invasive where as a basic instant messenger is just a conversation between you and another person and that's it. no other BS

ThaCrip said,

Yep, more of us 'old school' users as it seems people nowadays are mostly about Facebook or Twitter but i prefer to avoid Facebook when i can as i prefer to avoid it as it's to invasive where as a basic instant messenger is just a conversation between you and another person and that's it. no other BS

Facebook is only as invasive as you let it be. You could sign up n use it as chat only if you wanted. add your friends, no one forces you to actually post information on it.

TCA said,
i use aim daily on trillian.

Its honestly them most reliable service. MSN always has issues with third party clients, and the official MSN has issues with file transfers. AIM, works like a charm.

Beyond Godlike said,

Its honestly them most reliable service. MSN always has issues with third party clients, and the official MSN has issues with file transfers. AIM, works like a charm.

You're kidding right? I've been using AIM, YIM, MSN and ICQ for over 10 years, and find that AIM and YIM are the least reliable services...

TCA said,
i use aim daily on trillian.

So do I, but only because Trillian just logs me in without me worrying about it. I honestly can't remember when another AIM user contacted me - most people on my list use either MSN or FB Chat.

Fish said,

So do I, but only because Trillian just logs me in without me worrying about it. I honestly can't remember when another AIM user contacted me - most people on my list use either MSN or FB Chat.

I'm the opposite LOL. Most of my friends use AIM mostly...