At Last! After Only Four Years There’s A New AIM Mac Client. Er, Why?

So AOL released a beta version of a new IM client for the Mac. Hard as I try, I can’t get too excited about this. Oh, forget about being excited, I’m not even sure I can see the point to this.

Here are some features the new client offers:

  • A ground up re-write. (Last update was in 2004 so it’s just as well they started over.)
  • New interface. (Well, new to AIM perhaps, but not new to any iChat user.)
  • Tabbed chat sessions. (Like iChat.)
  • Integration with AOL mail. (That’s awfully nice of them.)
  • File Transfer, Groups, Friendly Names. (iChat, iChat, and iChat.)

There’s nothing wrong with the above, but there seems no real advantage to running this over iChat. Not that I can see. The new client does allow for the “AIM experience”, which utilizes AIM expressions, wallpaper, etc. but, really, is this a big draw?

What it lacks is iChat’s audio or video sessions. It also lacks iChat’s screen sharing, or the ability to login to more than one account at a time. If you’ll take wallpaper over audio/video/sharing, then go for it. Otherwise, I really don’t understand the appeal this program could have for a typical user.

In fact, I don’t understand why AOL bothered with this at all. I understand having an AIM client on the iPhone, where there is no iChat, but AOL is very well-represented on the Mac, so why expend the energy for this? Didn’t they have better things to do?