Commentary

Oh, that's right, I forgot about AIM...

AOL has decided to expand their instant messaging system by allowing users to access the AIM service through their cell phone via text messaging. Apparently this is a new idea. I was under the impression that AOL had already done this, but obviously that's not the case. If so, why didn't they do this sooner???

I remember when AIM first came out and, oh my goodness, my friends and I were on it ALL THE TIME. That was the main medium for communication for a long time between my friends. Anyhow, although I still have a screename, I use AIM seldomly if at all. I am not sure if I don't use AIM because it reminds me of my sophomoric days or because texting and using my cell phone is more convenient. I'm guessing it is a combination of both factors. Obviously, this is why AOL is jumping on the text messaging bandwagon. They need this feature in order keep AIM alive because I doubt I am the only one who has forgotten about it.

So although my days of instant messaging were not that long ago, I highly doubt they will ever start up again. I'd rather pick up my cell phone and call someone or send them a text rather than signing on to a computer and "chatting." What about you?

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3 comments about "Oh, that's right, I forgot about AIM...".
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  1. Tobias Klauder, November 5, 2007 at 9:26 a.m.

    AIM via mobile text messaging has been in place for quite some time (a few years ) so you are correct this is definitely not new.

    AIM mobile features are quite nice, as once you lock your computer or shut it down, IM's automatically start going to your mobile device, and then seamlessly start going back to your PC once you unlock or turn it on and the AIM PC client reconnects.

    With MSN Messenger, when you login from your PC, it automatically logs you out of your mobile device and vice versa, and will not let you stay logged into both at once so as to enable seamless context switching from a user point of view.

    While instant messenging may not be viewed as the force it once was, as it integrates more and more with with video, other desktop apps, and even your land line phone, it will continue to be an important and pervasive communication tool.

  2. James Curran, November 5, 2007 at 9:40 a.m.

    Tobias is right. It's not new.

    Same with MSN Messenger. In fact, you can even log into your Xbox while watching a movie or gaming and instant message people.

    However, I agree that AOL needs to keep pressure here for the mobile AIM arena. I think if there's a player that can make it work for free, texting will be seen as useless since most people pay per message.

    Wouldn't you rather have free messaging on your phone?

  3. Jacob Leffler from The Basement Design and Motion, November 5, 2007 at 10:51 a.m.

    Interesting points, and definitely a free text messaging option would be a homerun - parents of heavy young texters would certainly push it on their kids to lighten the cost of their monthly cell bills. Would a more intuitive AIM cell experience, and certainly one that was promoted more bring older users into cell texting? Older users being those comfortable with a PC based AIM experience, but not comfortable with a cell texting experience due to cost, user interface, lack of keypad, etc. Sounds funny, but I would be willing to bet there are a lot of people who fall into that category. And they are all potential customers for text messaging over a cell. One more way for cell companies to try and win customers away from their competition.

    A few other considerations - IPTV. Really, it is all about connectivity. As televisions become all digital in 2009, IM will still be a consideration and how does it fit within the IPTV experience? Consistency of experience between your PC and your cell has been a hurdle for cell phones delivering content. As those barriers begin to decrease with newer technologies in cell phones, the next step is IPTV, and the pervasiveness of connected screens in public spaces. Texting or IM will fit into that as well - either in a traditional two way interaction or in a one-way interaction (on public screens where interactivity is limited or void all together). It is interesting to watch AOL wither, yet one of their biggest assets - AIM - still has a significant usage rate. With a little progressive thinking, they could expand on that offering and continue to innovate.

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