Blog Post

Rumor Control: AIM-MySpace Hysteria

Get a grip, people. The warp-speed rumor, started by Dave Winer and fueled by Jason “AOL exec” Calacanis that AOL will use AIM to compete with mySpace is — gasp — actually oldish news that was reported months ago by Business Week, here and in some other places. AOL execs have made no secret of their belief that AIM’s buddy list is the ultimate social networking tool and it is no secret that AIM is implementing a wave of new features. (Stowe Boyd gets it right.)
One other thing: people who are framing this as AOL vs. MySpace — ie cool vs. un-cool — are thinking old-school and old AOL. They’re also ignoring the popularity of AIM, which has thrived because of and despite its AOL roots. AIM has roughly 43 miilion U.S. users, including 20-23 million active users of “free” AIM. ICQ, which AOL acquired in 1998, has about 30 million users globally.
Update: Ted Leonsis picked up the theme in a post to his blog late this afternoon : “C’mon. Working on a product that “kills” another, popular product is just so…1999. …Here’s a better way of looking at it. The AIM Buddy List (which was introduced 10 years ago) was the original social network … We’re working on adding functionality to AIM that will really open it up — allowing developers, partners, and users to take part. … Rather than thinking of it as a killer of anything, let alone MySpace, it will allow our millions of users to express themselves in new and interesting ways and become a catalyst for new communities to grow and flourish. We’ll have more to say about it soon.”
Related: AOL Takes AIM At Social Networking; Does Same For Developers