12.19.2004 | AIM ads getting out of hand

So yeah, I use AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) not because I want to, but because I pretty much have to. I much prefer Yahoo! Messenger for a number of reasons, but because the instant messaging networks don't work with each other, I have to keep AIM open while I'm using Yahoo! to be able to talk to most of my friends. It wasn't much of a bother really, having two IM programs open at once -- until, that is, AOL's ads started going psycho.

The small box at the top of the AIM buddy list window evidently isn't enough for AOL's advertisers, who have begun using more intrusive measures to get AIM users' attention. Recent examples include (among other things) opening a pop-up ad in Internet Explorer when your mouse cursor moves over the ad, automatically playing sounds and animation, and extending ads larger than the AIM window when they first appear.

Now, I understand AOL needs this ad revenue because unlike Yahoo!, which offers free Web content to deliver its ads, AOL only has its instant messenger (Yahoo's messenger, by the way, is ad-free). But once the ads start annoying users, this can only be bad for AOL, since it only gives one more reason for people like me to stop using AIM.

Stop using AIM? Impossible! Exactly: I'm waiting for the day when it won't matter what network you use, and people with any instant messenger client can contact people with any other instant messenger. Way back in 2000 when AOL first merged with Time Warner, government regulators were considering requiring AOL to open its instant messaging network to competitors as a requirement for the merger. But AOL instead promised to hold talks on creating an instant messaging standard, which have gone nowhere since.

In 2000, we had an administration that used government's regulatory power to ensure competition would benefit consumers. In 2004, we have an administration that lets business do whatever it wants, like push ads on unsuspecting users without giving them a real alternative. I like Yahoo! Messenger better than AIM, and I'd like to be able to use it to talk to my AOL friends. That would be real competition.

But for now I'm stuck with having to keep AIM open in the background. At least I can use the Yahoo! messenger window to cover over AIM's ads.

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Blogger Progect said...

gaim my good friend, gaim. it has reached version 1-- you no longer have any excuses. http://gaim.sourceforge.net

4:01 PM  

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