AOL Opens Up AIM (sort of)

I’ve been critical of AOL recently on this blog, but not today.  They are doing something smart in opening up the AIM platform for third party developers.  Now if you are building a cool new web service and you want to incorporate AIM into your service, you can do it. That’s great.  Here is Ted Leonsis’ take on it.  And here is some good analysis of the move from Jupiter.

I had dinner with some people last month from AOL and I suggested they do this, but go one step further, which is opening up their network too.  They didn’t go that far yesterday, and frankly I think its a mistake.

AIM should connect to MSN, Yahoo!, and Skype.  And anyone else with critical mass.

It’s going to happen, because the market will force it to happen.  If AOL leads the way, and they can because they have the largest IM customer base, they can shape it in ways that they benefit from.

But if they wait and let others do it to them (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! come to mind), they may be forced to do it on other’s terms.  And that would be a shame for them.

IM is like email. It’s a basic and fundamental communication tool and it needs to be pervasive and interoperable.  Nobody wants to have three or four IM clients, but we all do.  Or we use Trillian (that’s what I do) which takes the consumer away from the AIM brand.

A truly open AIM can be and should be the preferred gateway to a world of IM.  Just one more step and AOL will be there.  But they need to do it soon.