I logged into my AIM mail account today. That’s not something I do frequently. However, if these new widgets I found waiting for me are any indication of future development, I may be giving AIM (how about AOL Mail?) a second look.
AOL is famous for having been a walled-garden portal in the past. However, as I wrote last week, AOL is really on the ball with the whole spirit of the open web by introducing ways to bring in content from such places (competitors?) as Yahoo Mail, GMail, Twitter, Facebook, etc on the main AOL homepage, which does millions of impressions every month.
And the results from this newfound embracing of openness are more engagement, more pageviews and more attention. AOL is on to something.
With these new widgets in AIM mail, you can integrate Yahoo Mail, contacts, AIM, AOL Finance, Mapquest, etc within your inbox. GMail has this same feature with its Labs platform, so it’s good to see competition there. The trick with AIM is that they are bringing in properties from outside the AOL universe (unless the AIM Mail team knows something about a Yahoo/AOL deal that we don’t). Nifty.
However, my main question is if this is a sign of the future? Will you eventually be able to update Twitter or your Facebook status (or send Facebook messages) within AIM or AOL mail as you can on the AOL home page? If so, that will be very compelling. Will I ditch GMail for AIM even if that happens? Perhaps not, but I will definitely take a second look at my AOL/AIM mail.
It’s time for web-based email clients to grow up and become platforms instead of proprietary gardens of in-house developers. I’m glad to see AOL is helping to make that happen.