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AOL Launches "Incredibly Easy" Video Chat Service Internally; We Launch It Externally

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Earlier today, AOL’s Head of AIM Products Jason Shellen sent an email to the entire company urging people not to share its contents with people outside of the company. Even though we’re a part of AOL, we didn’t get that email. Well, that is until someone was kind enough to leak it to us. Hey, we are not outside of the company so that’s fair right? And since we didn’t technically get the email, I have no problem sharing it.

Anyway.

AOL is on the verge of launching a “shiny new video chat product dubbed ‘AV'”. And it actually looks pretty good. It’s video chat, but super-simple. You don’t need an account to use it. You don’t need anything (besides, sadly, Flash installed on your computer). You hit the homepage, start a chat, get a link, and send that to friends. Up to four people can chat at once.

I’ve been playing around with it for a bit. It is super simple and well done. Aside from video chatting, you can text chat and it overlays on your stream in a nice way. You can also make your stream wider and freeze it.

Still in beta for now, Shellen notes that it “represents a lot of hard work by the AIM team over the last few months.” He also says that it’s the first of “several” new AIM launches coming soon. All will be web-focused.

The video chat play is a smart one. This is a space that is heating up really quickly. Apple has FaceTime across their devices, Chatroulette is supposedly making a comeback, Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker are back at work on Supyo (yes, Mike is an investor), and even Skype is back in the news about possible partnerships with Facebook or Google for their technology.

Speaking of Google, we’ve been hearing for months that they’re working on something similar to AV. And I suspect we’ll be hearing more about that shortly.

The point of Shellen’s email today was to share AV internally with AOLers to test it out. But we’re gonna do him one better. We’re going to share the link here so all of you can help test it out! Here she is!

AOL is hosting a product summit at their west coast HQ in Palo Alto next week. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about AV there. For now, enjoy.

Below, Shellen’s email to the troops. Reached for comment, Shellen refused to and seemed annoyed. Hey, it was either us publishing this or Business Insider, right? We’re brothers!

People of AOL,

AIM is proud to present you with a super secret internal launch (shhh!) of our shiny new video chat product dubbed “AV”. Still in beta, AV is a major step forward that represents a lot of hard work by the AIM team over the last few months.

AV is incredibly easy to use: Visit the home page, start a chat, get a link to send out, and you and up to three other people are video chatting in no time. There’s no account or login required, so there’s very little barrier to entry. Plus… it’s FUN!

As you may know, this is the first of several substantial new AIM launches and the first to represent our shift in focus to better web software. While you might have been one of our early testers of the entire new AIM effort, this is just the video portion and we’ll be in touch soon as the rest rolls out.

What I’m asking of you is to:

1. Use the product by checking out the link below, only with fellow Aol team members.
2. Give us feedback and bug reports through the “Feedback” link in the product.
3. DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE AOL!
4. Sorry, my “caps lock” key got stuck on during number 3. But seriously, don’t do it.

Enjoy: http://aim.com/av

Sincerely,

JASON SHELLEN
Head of AIM Products
P: XXX.XXX.XXXX AIM: XXXXXXXX
Palo Alto | NYC | Dulles

PS: To the ACG team for whom this email will seem oddly familiar, thank you for your help in providing feedback on our alpha version over the past few weeks. Please give us another spin now that we’ve worked out the kinks and keep giving us feedback so we can continue to improve.