AOL Gets It Right With Open AIM 2.0 – Embraces Meebo and eBuddy

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AOL is pushing their two year old OpenAim initiative much further this morning with OpenAIM 2.0.

There are three key changes of note. First they are now embracing services that they previously tried to stop – multiheaded clients and websites that allow users to access all of the major instant messaging platforms in one place. These are desktop services like Pidgin (open source), Adium (Mac) and Trillian (Windows). And web based services like Meebo and eBuddy. Today those services have to hack in to MSN, Yahoo and AOL services (Google Gtalk is open). Now AOL is giving them unfettered access, too.

What that means is that AOL goes from being in a position of half ignoring services like Meebo and half vaguely threatening to sue them, to fully embracing and supporting the services.

Second, AOL is also removing the usage restrictions that were put in place two years ago that restricted big services from using them (again, forcing Meebo, eBuddy and others to hack in).

Third, AOL is saying they’ll soon be giving partners who build software on top of AIM the option to run AOL-served advertisements with a revenue share. AOL says more details on advertising will be coming next month, and will be powered by their Userplane group, which AOL acquired in 2006.

There are a number of additional changes to OpenAIM as well, including more robust tools for third party add-ons (see gallery of existing add-ons here) and for mobile applications. And they are documenting their protocol for accessing AIM, called OSCAR.

David Liu, AOL SVP of Social Media, Messaging and Homepages, said in an interview that they want to remove all the friction and hurdles to third parties who want to leverage the AIM service, and welcome them with open arms. “To that end, we’ve come together with third-party chat services such as meebo and eBuddy to enhance the experiences of our users who access the AIM platform from these web-based services. We’re also giving developers the tools and flexibility they desire to build innovative and meaningful applications around instant messaging for web users around the globe.”

AIM has 27.3 million monthly users (plus another 30 million at ICQ, which is not part of this announcement), according to recent Comscore data. MSN has 235 million and Yahoo has 97.6 million. Gtalk has 4.9 million.

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