So, back in September, I mused about how AOL could have become the open platform that twitter is, and mused about why they didn’t. Back in the day, AOL was THE game in town for communication, especially after purchasing the ICQ network. Failure to integrate the network and failure to open it up, ultimately, propelled competition to their IM Client. Concerned about losing advertising revenue, AOL wouldn’t allow third party clients with real access to the OSCAR Protocol, instead just a barely supported Talk to OSCAR Protocol.
(NOTE: Back when I was in school, the Unix machines lacked an AOL Client, and the weird TAC Client that ran under Motif.)
Had AOL simply provided a few APIs, perhaps just sending messages (for automation), as well as login and authentication, they’d be where the Open ID type plays are.
I still use AOL IM, but I use it via a LibGAIM Client, Pidgen at the office, AdiumX at home. I have multiple AIM Names, plus the other networks for those on the others. Interestingly, I was using IM less and less, but the support for Facebook in Adium recently brought me back. I think that this is a great move on AOL’s part, as it will help bring AIM back to relevancy as a great communication medium, especially as casual Internet users are all on Facebook more than a computer with an IM client.