Open AIM: AOL opens its Instant Messaging protocol

Today, AOL relaunched its OpenAIM initiative and published the specifications of the AIM and ICQ protocol.

OpenAIM is an initiative from AOL that aims at building a development community around its Instant Messaging service and protocol. This time it seems that they are dedicated to seriously open their Instant Messaging network and give access to their IM platform. You can now officially build a compliant AIM / ICQ client, use the platform to push presence back and forth, write plugins and bots that plug to the AIM network. The protocol is called Oscar and fully described here.

This is a very clever move from AOL. They decided that the value lies in their users base and in the network they provide. They thus want to grow the community usage of their platform. Revenue is based on advertising. You can filter ads in your client but you can also decide to build an ads supported software and benefit from AOL advertising network. You will thus be able to share advertissement revenues with AOL. I bet that MSN and Yahoo! will now think about the large set of opportunity that this model opens.

What does this move mean for the Instant Messaging community ? Simply, it means that building a client for AIM is now officially possible. Building an Instant Messaging aggregator is possible regarding the AIM / ICQ protocol aggregation.

For ProcessOne, it also means that AOL and ICQ gateway software can be published officially. Maybe it is time to dream about the most scalable AIM / ICQ gateway ever published (hint, hint !).

AOL has now opened the AIM / ICQ platform and protocol. Now, there is no major reason to not fully adopt the XMPP protocol. See my previous blog post on that topic for more information: The AOL XMPP scalability challenge. The missing part is still allowing to chat with a contact without requiring an AIM or ICQ account. In the XMPP world, this is called federation. I am not convinced that they will do this move if they managed to extend advertisements and revenue sharing to this larger community.


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