AOL cuts AIM staff: Is instant messenger dead or just dying?


While iMessage and even BBM might come to mind these days way before AOL's AIM instant messenger, for some users -- including users of Apple's own iChat for Mac -- it's still an incredibly important part of their online communications. That's what makes recent employee cuts at AOL and more specifically the AIM team, so tragic -- it's leading many to claim the AIM service is dying, if not already dead.

The news of employee cuts came by way of the New York Times, which followed up on previous rumors suggested by All Things D.

The AOL Instant Messenger group took the deepest cut so far. A former AOL employee said the group was “eviscerated and now only consists of support staff.” This person, who asked not to be named because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the company, added that “nearly all of the West Coast tech team has been killed.”

With the news spreading, an update was posted to the New York Times article stating that the West Coast layoffs were just the beginning and many more would happen across the AOL network in the coming weeks.

Stepping back and looking at the situation, with that much of the AIM team gone, it's a pretty clear indication that any more development of the instant messaging service in place since 1997 just simply isn't going to happen, though AOL seems to believe they can still manage to make $25 Million off the service yearly with these cuts in labor.

So what will become of AIM in the long term? Will the remaining users just start to abandon the services and opt to take on other instant messaging clients until AOL decides to lay it to rest? If you're an AIM user you'll have to decide if the service is already dead or just dying slowly and plan your escape route.

Source: NYT, All Things D

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Chris Parsons

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

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Reader comments

AOL cuts AIM staff: Is instant messenger dead or just dying?


IM isn't dead, AIM is though, it has been dead for years, perhaps for longer than a decade now.
MSN, Google Talk and Facebook Chat are becoming the more popular IM protocols.

Let's bring it back! Yahoo is horrible way too much spam, and ICQ is dead unless you want to get friend requests from someone with the same name Dan Kim or some spammer everytime you log in. AIM rocked.. I missed the good old days.

Surprisingly, almost everyone I know still uses AIM heavily in addition to Skype and Facebook Chat... so I'm very surprised to hear anyone claim that AIM is dead. shrug

I don't think it's that AIM is dead - it's more like it's done. Finished. Complete. What more development work is really needed on it? Surely all the features are there. There can't be too many bugs left at this point. From AOL's point of view, why NOT stop development and just make money off the thing?

Do the people who still use AIM also have those AOL CDs with the 500 free hours of Internet???
Cheap text messaging and Unlimited text messaging plans killed AIM. Once phone companies got rid of the high per-text charges, text messaging became an easier and more viable option. No need to log in and out of a user name and it's easily accessible from any phone, even an old black and white Nokia.

i thought it died about 9 years ago. I've instant messaged one person in like 9 years and that's on google chat.

Please actually read the article before commenting. It was about a service of AOL called AIM dying, not the company itself.

LOL at all the elitist comments. Yes people still use AIM. I've been using it since it was first introduced and see no reason to hop to the next new thing just because it's the popular thing to do. Then again I'm not a hipster or a 14 year old girl.
It's sad to hear that the service might be dying though. It's surprising AOL itself has lasted this long.

Funny i find your comment pretty elitist. And honestly I'd figure it's only 14 year old girls sitting around sending instant messages to people. My friends are grown. We don't do that. Not cause we are on to whatever the latest thing is but because we have no use for doing that.

AOL is doing the same thing to AMI that they did with Netscape. They are slowly pulling the plug. AOL is not the big ISP it used to be. Some how their leadership forgot how to keep up with the times. if they wanted to change, is it too late? Do they even have the money to compete?

Let's be honest: what have the dev teams been working on? Ways to make AIM more like Skype (video chat), Twitter (publishing a timeline), and Facebook (profile with customization). Most people using AIM use it to chat and for nothing else. Why spend time and money building add-ons to better monetize AIM that people weren't using?

That reminds me.. how many of them are still paying 20 bucks a month for dial up thru AOL??

I never used Aim. I do use yahoo messenger in the office because Facebook is blocked and I can only use my phone on a minimum bases

May as well be dead. They disabled my 14 year old AIM account about six weeks ago out of the blue. No warning whatsoever.

I still using an IM service, but have transitioned to GChat. I still sign on to AIM (it's still attached to Adium which I use for GChat), but can't remember the last time I received an IM through AIM.

I used AIM many, many years ago and have long since stopped using it due to several reasons - most of my contacts moved on to other services like Yahoo! and I couldn't stand all the spam messages that I would get. Pretty soon, I barely knew anyone on AIM that was either A) Worth Talking to; or B) Worth keeping up with.
I moved on to Yahoo! IM and will occasionally fire it up to see if there is anyone there that I would like to talk to. But, again, there is the issue of the spam messages that I will get, too.
I've moved on and integrate myself into Google's products. So, I use the Google Chat function because I can easily chat with people online, send them messages or talk with them over Video chat - all from the same window or program. It has less junk to futz around with and it's not nearly as annoying as FB chat (I turn that on and everyone wants to talk all of a sudden. I have more control with my Google chat).
So, AIM being done, dead or dying is nothing new. They provided a great service and it was because of that program that I learned how to type much faster and become a Hot Key monster as I learned how to easily flip between windows without ever having to touch my mouse. So, thank you AIM for all your great years... you've served us well and spawned a new era of quick and efficient communication.

Facebook was the killing of AIM. I loved AIM all throughout HS, even for the first few years of College. But as Facebook came into place, people realized they could just have their web browser open all day and talk on FB Chat. So slowly and then quickly friends stopped signing on AIM. AIM was the best in HS for chatting with your friends, chatting to girls all night long with. I hate facebook for many reason, and this is probably the primary reason. I miss AIM, going on and seeing who was on, whether a friend or family member, no profiles, and just being able to have convo's going for long times whether you were there or went AFK to come back to something. FB sucks in general, I don't care about people's status's anymore, I don't care about seeing pictures of people or being bothered by people I do not want finding me. Whatever happened just just having someones screename and saying hey! then dragging a convo out for a long time, or simply just messaging someone to let them know you were coming by to pick them up or something. FB you never know if the person is actually online, if they'll get your message or when... it just sucks... I now have about 4 friends who use AIM when I used to have a good 20-30 on a night to shoot the stuff with, have combined chat combo's with team members. Ugh I hope Facebook dies soon.

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