Is MySpace the AIM Killer?

Posted on April 21, 2006

AOL's Ted Leonsis has blogged about the recent MySpace competitor rumors. The rumors are true to a certain extent. AOL is planning on adding new functionality to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). But Leonsis calls the idea of a killer product "so....1999."
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 orignial social network, and it has 43 million AIM and Buddy List users. We're working on adding functionality to AIM that will really open it up -- allowing developers, partners, and users to take part. It's going to be fun. 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.
If AOL was the original social network then does that mean MySpace is the AIM killer? MySpace has already passed AIM's 43 million members. Like or not AOL is already in competition with MySpace. Some teens already consider MySpace a replacement for IMs and email as this Citizen-Times article explains.
Jack Stewart, an eighth-grader at Rugby Middle School, laughed when asked if he still used e-mails, now that MySpace and Xanga are on the scene.

"The only reason I use my e-mail is because my grandma sends me e-mails," he said. "She lives in Florida and she'll send me pictures. ... That's about it."

Even instant messaging is being replaced because it's not interactive enough for Stewart and his classmates. Instead, most teens have turned their attention and energies to a more complete way of communication, one that includes carefully selected words and pictures to go with live back-and-forth.

The majority of kids at Rugby have some form of presence on MySpace, and many of those students simultaneously maintain sites on Xanga. The main difference between the two is that Xanga is simpler and allows users to do little more than chat, while MySpace gives much more freedom for personal expression in page design and other forms of media.
AOL's Instant Messenger service may need more features like those found in MySpace and Xanga to be able to compete with the growing popularity of these social networks.

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