AOL reportedly has laid off more than 100 employees at its West Coast Offices, 40 of which have worked on AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM).
There is speculation that AOL will be shutting it down entirely, while there are reports that suggest that the company intends to squeeze more dollars out of the messenger platform. A New York Times article suggests that AOL intends to cut the annual cost of AIM from currently $25 million to about $2 to $3 million and will only employ support staff within the AIM unit. The report also notes that AIM generates about $50 million in revenue for AOL per year.
AOL's instant messenger was first released in May 1997 and is currently available for Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile, Mac OS, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS. While AIM was once believed to have been the leading instant messenger, recent reports indicate that its worldwide market share has plunged to less than 1 percent and is trailing Microsoft's Live Messenger (41 percent), Skype (27 percent) Yahoo!Messenger (15 percent), tencentQQ (5 percent), Google Talk (4 percent), Gadu-Gadu (2 percent) and ICQ (2 percent).
Among the more prominent layoffs are SVP Eric van Miltenburg as well as AIM lead Jason Shellen. The remainder of the layoffs at AOL appear to be affecting Patch.com as well as in some other business units. In a statement provided to the NYT, AOL said that it is “making some strategic but very difficult changes to better align our resources with key areas of growth for us as a company.” It also said that AOL remains "committed to [its] presence in Silicon Valley and driving innovation in consumer products and mobile.”
AOL has not confirmed that it is shutting down IM.