Do you remember AIM, also known as AOL Instant Messenger? Well for those of you that do remember this iconic messenger software, the sad news is that on the 15th December it will disappear into history. For those of you who do not know what AIM is then that is why it is closing its doors.
This was a pioneering application, with its distinctive running yellow stick figure logo and became popularized online chat for the masses back in the late 1990s. It came part of the free discs sent out by AOL to allow computer uses globally to access the internet and it provided for the very first time a buddy list, the ability to leave messages, to chat live to someone on the opposite side of the world via your computer and no expensive long distance calls.
AOL’s instant messaging program came about as a project among a group of computers engineers, and was truly met by resistance from the senior executives but eventually was allowed to move forward. Ironically it became crucial to the success of AOL in the 90’s.
We can learn a lot about this story of AIM, how in the tech world you can have a great innovation, but it only lasts a small time before others come along. In AIM case it was tied into AOL and the monetarization became an issue for the business, it simply did not evolve quick enough and independent chat applications appeared and market share dropped to it is believing to be under 0.02% of the current online chat application traffic.
On a personal note, I have fond memories of using AIM to help build some of the first businesses I was involved within the dot.com early days and on a personal note, I shall feel a slight disappointment and sadness of its failure. Do I think it could have been saved? Definitely… in fact I would say a total re-work of its technology, its interface and more and the silver surfer, the early days online surfer would happily take it back up and with the correct ease of design and flexibility it could compete but alas it looks as if the executives just don’t think or have the correct vision to see that AIM still has something.
Truth is the last time I honestly used AIM I believe would have been maybe 2005/2006 time so that about sums it up.
RIP – Thank you for everything you once did and provided.