It definitely brought a smile to my face to see Gizmodo praise AIM 5.x. Â My favorite AIM version I worked on was AIM 5.5 on Windows, back when I still used a Windows machine. Â That particular client really was close to perfect, and achieved perfection thanks to James Dennis’ DeadAIM addon that removed the Ad and added a few other key features. Â CNet calls it plain, but by then we had built a nice Expression engine and had audio and video chat.
What made AIM so important back then was the away message which were as irrelevant as a lot of Tweets are today, like “In the Shower” or “I am watching Survivor.” Â We used to watch our users in usability tests view each of their friends Away Messages. Â It even drove us to create a simple web page where you could view all of your buddies current Away Messages and their profiles.
Ah, profiles, 1024 Â characters (HTML markup included) of personalized goodness. Â This was MySpace years before Tom became everyone’s friend. Â Profiles were so important, that when we launched the ill fated AIM Triton without profiles, I added an AIM plugin to put them back. (Props to Justin for keeping his old Running Man blog alive on Blogspot after AOL Journals was shut down.)
So while Gizmodo declares AIM dead, I think they missed the AIM Desktop death by a few years. Â AIM is making a big push on being a web destination and they still have a respected mobile experience. Â Hopefully AIM 5.5 can rest in peace, as the real-time communication platform moves on to what’s next.
I am proud that the last thing I worked on during my 11 years at AOL finally was released yesterday. AIM AV was something that was a long time coming. It addressed two of the bigger weaknesses AIM suffered. It was getting lapped by messaging clients on the web by Meebo and GTalk among others. The other area AV addresses is a new set of audio and video technology.
AV finally starts to get AIM away from the original audio video stack I wrote with others back in 2003 and refreshed in 2006. I am proud of the work we did 5+ years ago when we had the foresight to move away from Microsoft RTC and integrate ON2’s VP7 and Global IP Solutions. Later both those companies were acquired by Google and now make up a major part of WebM.
The new experience lowers the barrier to entry, where anybody can arrive at aim.com/av and immediately start a video conversation with a friend. Â With no download necessary, getting non-technical people to use the product is super easy, no Geek Squad required. Â Simply just copy and send the link. The team did a great job getting AV out the door and making it the easiest audio and video experience on the internet, congrats guys.
I really applaud Google for pushing all their chips into the center of the table on ON2 VP8 (otherwise known as the CODEC that powers WebM) rather than continue to support H.264 in Google Chrome. Â I know a lot of those in the tech community think Google is crazy to do this. Â However, when you stop to consider the cabal that the patent holders of H.264 have enjoyed, it was time someone stepped in to break it up.
The move does not come without risks. Â One of the main reasons H.264 was adopted as the standard was, believe it or not, the porn industry. Â As soon as Adobe added H.264 decoding in its Flash Media Player 9, video could be consumed at a super high quality and done so cheaply.
In the last 12 months Google has purchased ON2 technologies to compete on the CODEC front and Global IP Solutions (GIPS) for video and audio processing. Â Wiring this all up Google can offer real time peer-to-peer audio video sessions to go up against Skype and Apple in the space. Â We have to assume that Google has crunched numbers and that using ON2 plus HTML5 is cheaper to serve video up as well.
As I mentioned late in December with the Skype outage, the battle ground is shaping up quickly between Google, Apple, Skype, and to a degree Microsoft and Mozilla with their browsers. Â With H.264 going royalty free until 2015, in the end the user wins as more HD video is available on the internet, unless you are still using Chatroulette, because no one wants to see that in HD.