It should come as little surprise, but AIM is now dead. Effectively, anyway. And yes, up until recently, it was technically alive. Last Friday, AOL finalized layoffs which included the vast majority of the Instant Messenger division. The department was “eviscerated,” a former employee told The New York Times, and is now down to nothing more than support staff, so there’s practically no chance at future development. All in all, you’d have to have been pretty deluded to be stunned by this, but it’s still a little sad for those of us who practically grew up on the service.
It’s been a long time since AIM has been in wide use, but that doesn’t mean that its costs didn’t remain high. Up until the layoffs, it cost AOL $25 million a year to keep AIM afloat. Now, it should only take $2 or $3 million, which still seems frankly absurd. Then again, we’re talking about a company that still has 3.5 million dial-up subscribers somehow, so just about anything is possible I guess.
The only somewhat surprising thing about this apparent death is that it happened so shortly after the newest AIM redesign in ages. Late last year, AOL put out a fresh new AIM client that, while still AIM, incorporated a lot of social networking functionality, bringing the ancient service relatively up to speed with the sweeping changes the Internet had undergone since the service’s inception. Granted, it wasn’t about to make anyone adopt it, but it seemed competent, an impressive feat for such a dinosaur.
Now, after most users have grown up, moved to other chat clients and social networks, and seem unwilling to return to AIM’s loving embrace, it seems the service will be forever stuck in time the way it is. While AOL hasn’t come out and announced AIM’s demise, they did tell Gizmodo that they don’t even have a statement on AIM’s future, which if you ask me, is pretty convincing evidence of AIM’s ultimate irrelevance in today’s chat landscape. Although it may not be officially dead, nothing short of the backwards movement of time could breathe life back into AIM.
As a farewell to the chat client so many of us loved, and lost, so many years ago, I’d like to commit my AIM screen names to the record. All that I can remember anyways. Even the embarrassing ones (also known as “all of them”).
- A blue melon
- thepicklemonger (phallic implications lost on me at the time, apparently)
- funnybunnyl01 (for trolling)
- war on walmart
James wants to get in on this memorial, and included some of his old AIM screen names as well:
- The Math Stud
- Breeding Horses
- Premium Cut Lumber (his favorite)
Feel free to air your dirty screen name laundry in the comments. It’s oddly liberating.
Update: Now AOL says it’s planning to “evolve” AIM, whatever that means.
- Yeah, AOL still has dial-up subscribers
- My thoughts on the most recent, and probably last, AIM client
- More on AOL’s absurdly existent dial-up revenue